- SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- A U.S. peacekeeper shot and killed
a Serb political leader in a confrontation as Bosnia plunged into a crisis
fueled by a pair of international rulings, NATO said Saturday.
- Krsto Micic, vice president of the nationalist
Bosnian Serb Radical Party in the town of Ugljevik, died Friday night when
he and other angry Serbs attacked U.S. troops serving with the NATO peacekeeping
force in Bosnia, a NATO statement said.
- The clash came as tensions erupted in
the Serb part of Bosnia over two decisions made by a Western envoy: transferring
the strategic city of Brcko from exclusive Bosnian Serb control, and firing
the hard-line Bosnian Serb leader.
- President Nikola Poplasen refused to
step down, and the Western-backed prime minister announced he would resign
to protest the decision to place Brcko, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north
of Sarajevo, under multi-ethnic control.
- NATO Peacekeepers attacked
- The peacekeepers, who had been alerted
to possible trouble, were confronted in a restaurant in Ugljevik where
they were coordinating humanitarian support, NATO said. The attackers began
breaking glass bottles and punching and shoving the soldiers, who tried
- As they attempted to run to their car,
one of the U.S. soldiers was reportedly hit several times on his back and
- "Fearing for his personal safety,
he drew his sidearm pistol and fired two shots at his assailant,"
said Col. Lee Hockman, the chief spokesman for the international force
in Sarajevo. The crowd of Serbs then dispersed and the soldiers returned
to their base without further incident.
- The U.S. soldier was treated in Tuzla
for severe bruises and lacerations, while Micic died a short time later
at a local hospital
- Micic's party issued a statement in Belgrade
saying "bloodthirsty American criminals and terrorists" shot
Micic "in cold blood." It added, "American bandits ... will
pay dearly for murdering Micic."
- The 32,000-strong peacekeeping force
in Bosnia includes about 6,900 U.S. troops.
- In a separate incident Friday night in
the town of Prijedor, a grenade was thrown at a peacekeepers' building
and two more were hurled at an international police station there. No injuries
or damage were reported, but the staffs at both places were evacuated and
a Czech brigade increased patrols in the area, said Maj. Jim Jarvis of
- More turbulence expected
- Carlos Westendorp, the West's top peace
envoy to Bosnia, on Friday announced the decision to remove Poplasen from
office. Westendorp accused Poplasen of obstructing implementation of the
Dayton peace accord.
- "We are going to have turbulence
in the coming days but I hope that with our constant pressure and dialogue
we could come to an improvement of the peace implementation process,"
Westendorp told CNN in an interview broadcast Saturday.
- Poplasen, whose election victory in September
was widely seen as a setback for the West, had insisted that Serbs retain
control of Brcko. He said he did not accept the dismissal, denouncing it
as "illegitimate and undemocratic."
- Poplasen's efforts to remove the Serbs'
pro-Western prime minister, Milorad Dodik, prompted his dismissal.
- In a further disappointment for the West,
Dodik also said he would step down because of Westendorp's ruling awarding
Brcko to all three Bosnian ethnic groups -- Serbs, Croats and Muslims.
The Serbs had wanted control of the city of about 90,000, which links the
eastern and western parts of their territory.
- Separatist Serb forces captured the town
early in the three-year Bosnian civil war, killing or expelling the non-Serb
- Friday's decision was meant to resolve
the last major territorial issue left from the conflict, which ended with
a peace treaty signed by negotiators in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995.