BosNet ARTICLE: Sarajevans Amazed By War

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory

From: Davor <>

B o s N e t - Sept. 20, 1995
September 18th Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevans Amazed By War

Steeled against hoping too much by 3 1/2 years of war, battle-hardened Sarajevans have been amazed by nightly TV images bombarding their living rooms. For nearly a week, state-run television has carried video and live interviews from battlefields across western and central Bosnia, where the government army, in places backed by its Croat allies, has overrun rebel Serb positions. Scenes of captured, flower-bedecked tanks carrying home victorious soldiers have replaced the footage most had become inured to -- images of shattered bodies lying in pools of blood in the streets of Sarajevo and other Serb-besieged cities. "Dear Bosnians, come home! The time has come, your homes are free and waiting for you," Gen. Mehmed Alagic, whose forces scored one of the early victories in taking Donji Vakuf last week, told television Sunday night from the central Bosnian town. Serbs held about 70 percent of Bosnia through much of the war. Now, the split is approaching 50-50. On Sunday morning, Semir Alic, 38, told his wife and children, refugees in Germany, to start packing for their return to Bosnia. "By the time she packs and gets the visas for the trip, it'll be over," he said after he talked to his wife. The euphoria has reached such proportions that some Bosnians are daring to suggest the army retake the entire country instead of settling for the 51 percent it has committed to in international peace negotiations. "This is the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina so we are entitled to liberate our territory," Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic said Sunday. Asked if he felt the Bosnians were in the driver's seat for the first time in the war, Silajdzic savored the question a moment, then replied: "In the driving seat? Oh, yes. The answer is yes." Some diplomats and international negotiators are concerned that the euphoria will get out of control and tempt the Bosnian army to go too far. There is concern that they will try to take Banja Luka, the Bosnian Serbs' largest city, and risk pulling the army of Serb-led Yugoslavia into the conflict and reigniting an all-out war. Sunday night's television showed thousands of joyous Bosnian refugees, waving flags from their car windows, returning home to Bihac in the northwest, where a Bosnian-Croat offensive ended a Serb blockade in August. Television said 3,000 of the returning men had joined the Bosnian Army's 5th Corps, headquartered in Bihac. Among the developments bringing cheers from TV viewers were reports that the 5th Corps has captured a string of villages in the northwest, overrun by the Serbs early in the war. Those successes have left Bosnian soldiers just 25 miles west of Banja Luka. The Serbs claimed Sunday that they had stabilized the front lines. People in Sarajevo are charting battlefield gains with pencils and maps as they watch the nightly news. They use pencils to mark the changing front lines, convinced they will have to erase them tomorrow to add more land. Everybody knows by heart the chronological order of the nine cities and towns recaptured from the Serbs in less than a week. Many had assumed those places were gone forever. "I wish I would have been there when Vozuca was taken," said Seval Kulenovic, a 27-year-old Bosnian soldier. The capture of the small town in north-central Bosnia secured the highway linking Zenica and Tuzla, two of the government's largest cities. As he spoke, he watched TV pictures of captured Serb tanks and other weapons being paraded through Tuzla as Bosnian soldiers waved to cheering crowds lining the streets. Live telephone interviews with generals in the field, describing their victories, have become a new feature of the nightly news. TV newscaster Senad Hadzifejzovic has had trouble containing his euphoria on air. "As of this moment this news broadcast has no concept," he said, looking a bit flustered as he shuffled pieces of paper being rushed to him live on air. "The good news is overtaking itself."

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