Foreign Mujahideen fighters leave Bosnian village

BOCINJA, Bosnia, Sep 16, 2000 -- (Reuters) The evictions of foreign Mujahideen from Serb houses in the central Bosnian village of Bocinja continued on Friday without incidents, paving the way for completion of a troublesome process.

Dzevad Galijasevic, the head of the municipal government responsible for the area, told Reuters that six out of 65 foreign Islamic former fighters had been evicted, along with their families.

Despite fears that the ex-fighters might put up resistance, as they did in July by setting up road blocks intended to prevent evictions, officials were relieved to find that most families had left of their own accord.

"They leave without incidents. The process is regularly under way," said Galijasevic. "They even leave houses a few days before the commission's inspection."

He said the Mujahideen, most of Middle Eastern origin, were thought to be resettling in majority-Muslim towns nearby and in the capital Sarajevo.

Galijasevic said that local municipal authorities had also succeeded in the past 45 days in evicting 87 of a total of some 95 local Mujahideen from Bocinja. They had homes to return to in different parts of Bosnia, he said.

The evictions are part of internationally-sponsored push across Bosnia to free up properties occupied by displaced people and allow as many as possible of the more than one million refugees who fled their homes during the 1992-95 Bosnian war to go back.

The international community has long pressured the government of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation to resettle Mujahideen who fought alongside Bosnian Muslim forces in the war and later settled in Bocinja.

Russia alleged last year that some of them belonged to international terrorist groups and were being trained to fight in Chechnya. The NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia has dismissed the allegation, saying it knows of no such training camps in Bosnia.

Galijasevic said that despite progress in the eviction process no Serb family had returned to Bocinja, which had a Serb majority before the war. He added that they were probably waiting for the evictions to be completed.

Deserted streets in Bocinja on Friday indicated that most of its inhabitants have already left. But damaged and looted houses, some of them roofless, also showed that the former residents took with them all they could.

Galijasevic confirmed that this might become a new obstacle to the return of Serbs.

"At the moment the housing fund in Bocinja is being devastated...doors, windows, furniture and construction material are being looted by former and current residents," he said.

Original article