markale_eng- 2623 - 18.11.2005 : - (2)
Mystery of the market massacre
by Eve-Ann Prentice
SIXTY-EIGHT people died and more than 200 were injured when a single shell exploded in a small Sarajevo market. The ghastly scenes were filmed and a horrified world was left in no doubt that the Serbs were to blame. The slaughter brought deeper American involvement in the Balkans, with the formation of the US-led Contact Group and an American-negotiated alliance between Bosnia's Muslims and Croats.
The massacre also ultimately paved the way for American airstrikes on Bosnian Serb positions in late summer, 1995. Furthermore, the killing brought about a deal whereby the Serbs pulled back their heavy guns from the mountains surrounding Sarajevo and the Muslims reluctantly signed a ceasefire. The easing of the siege, and the relief for the people of Sarajevo, was a notable achievement.
To this day no one knows who fired the deadly mortar round on Markale market in February 1994. Survivors and witnesses said they heard no characteristic whistle of an approaching missile; this later led to suggestions that a bomb had been placed under a stall. A Western diplomat who was in Sarajevo at the time told me in 1999 that he was convinced the bombing was perpetrated by the Muslim-led Government. The Muslims were sure that the Serbs would be blamed and hoped that outrage at the carnage would lead to airstrikes against their foes and increase pressure for a lifting of the arms embargo that was in place against all the warring sides. Britain and France were vehemently opposed to lifting the embargo, although America had shown signs of wanting to arm the Muslims.
"On the morning of the explosion some people were told that it was not a good day to go to the market, " the Western diplomat said. "There was also no shelling from the Serb positions that day, and the injuries were mainly from the waist down, as if a bomb had exploded in situ. " The diplomat said that another sign that the Muslim-led Government had been responsible was that government media with cameras were on the scene "within seconds", as if poised in advance to record the full horror of the carnage to gain as much world impact as possible.
The suggestion that the Muslims shelled their own people began to be discussed by diplomats, politicians and a few journalists after the UN's investigation into the massacre concluded that no one could be sure whence the shell had come. But most people recoiled at the idea of such self-inflicted mutilation. The majority of the world's press and politicians accepted the instant suggestion that the Serbs were responsible; questions were not encouraged and the general view was that the end justified the means: the siege of Sarajevo was eased. But blaming the Serbs without proof set a precedent, and the process of demonising them took deeper root.
markale_eng- 1455 - 03.05.2005 : Zeljko Tomic Sokolac - (0)
Crime at the "Markale" market place in Sarajevo
General Michael Rose - Extract from his book Fighting for Peace, published by The Harvill Press, London, 1998)
Although the Serbs had now agreed virtually everything the Bosnians had asked for, Divjak was reluctant to sign up to a ceasefire, once again on the grounds that the UN proposal was not linked to any long-term political settlement. I told him that the people of Sarajevo would at that moment certainly settle for something short of this, just to be able to live in peace. He still would not agree.
At this point I sprang a nasty surprise on him. I told him that the first UN examination of the bomb crater in the Markele market place indicated that the bomb had been fired from the Bosnian side of the battle lines. The room went deadly silent and Hajrulahovic looked anxious. He coldly asked me to explain. I told him that the angle of the trajectory of the mortar bomb suggested that it had been fired at extremely short range from their side of the lines or perhaps detonated in situ. It was difficult, I said, to be precise when only one bomb had been fired and also because the Bosnian Army had removed some of the important forensic evidence before the UN arrived. (page 48)
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