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Bosnian Serbs stone Moslem buses, five hurt

SARAJEVO, May 12, 2000 -- (Reuters) Bosnian Serbs stoned four buses carrying 200 Bosnian Moslem women refugees back to the eastern town of Bratunac for a visit on Thursday, injuring five people, a United Nations mission spokesman said.

Bosnian state television reported that 10 refugees and a bus driver were injured in the incident, but UN spokesman Douglas Coffman could not confirm this.

He said one person injured by shattered glass was taken by members of the NATO-led peace force and UN police monitors to a hospital in Moslem-Croat federation territory. Bratunac is in Bosnia's autonomous Serb republic, close to the Yugoslav border.

Four of the 60 local policemen who tried to prevent the incident also received light injuries, he said.

Coffman said police detained 22 people who took part in the attack, adding that the UN mission, which supervises police and judicial reform in post-war Bosnia, expected more arrests.

"The UN mission hopes charges will be brought against these individuals and that they are held responsible for this senseless act of violence," he told Reuters by telephone.

The incident occurred at 1 p.m. (1100 GMT) in the center of Bratunac after the buses were stopped by around 150 Serbs now living there, Coffman said. "We believe it was organized."

The women had wanted to visit Bratunac - presumably to see their former homes and pay respects at cemeteries - on the eighth anniversary of their flight from the town.

Moslems fled Bratunac as it was seized by separatist Serb forces early in Bosnia's 1992-95 war. Bratunac is just a few kilometers from Srebrenica, where thousands of Moslem men were massacred by Serb forces in 1995.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said this week that four times as many refugees had returned to their pre-war homes, where they are now a minority, so far in 2000 as in all of 1999.

But some 800,000 remained displaced throughout ethnically divided Bosnia with another 300,000 refugees abroad.



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