SFOR bans movement, training of Bosnian Croat army

SARAJEVO, Jan 28, 2000 -- (Reuters) The NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia said on Friday it had banned the movement of the Bosnian Croat army after the Croatians failed to provide requested information.

The Stabilization Force (SFOR) also suspended training and said the moves came into force at midnight on Wednesday. But it did not give reasons for its decision, except to say the information requested was not related to operational matters.

"There is a (SFOR) military presence on all Bosnian Croat army bases to make sure that the restrictions are respected," Captain Marc Theriault told Reuters.

Post-war Bosnia comprises two autonomous territories - the Moslem-Croat federation and the Serb republic - each with its own police and military forces. But the federation army is also made up of a Croat and a Moslem component.

Theriault said that SFOR would lift the ban as soon as the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) complied and delivered the requested documentation to SFOR.

He declined to say whether the information was related to the nomination of HVO officers, as local media have speculated. "It is not about operational matters," Theriault said.

SFOR, which safeguards Bosnia's four-year-old peace process with some 20,000 ground troops, has the right to veto nomination of high-ranking officers in all three units.

"I expect that the ban will not last very long," Theriault said, adding that the other two army units had submitted the information.

"It is an easy requirement to meet," Theriault said.