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More dead in ethnic violence

By
JONATHAN S. LANDAY

OSIJEK, Yugoslavia -- Two men were killed in fighting Thursday between rebel Serbs and Croatian police in the breakaway republic of Croatia despite federal troops deployed to prevent violence and the European Community's efforts to avert a civil war, officials said.

The death toll rose to at least 94 in ethnic unrest in Croatia in the past three months.

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The shootout broke out in Osijek, the chief town of Croatia's eastern Slavonija region with Serbian-dominated enclaves, early Thursday when Croatian police exchanged fire with a Serb barricaded in his house with his mother, Judge Radoslav Arambasic said.

Croatian police attacked the house in the outskirts of Osijek, 100 miles northwest of Belgrade. One Croatian police officer and the Serb were killed, the woman and two other policemen were wounded and three houses were set on fire, Arambasic said.

Police had been told by neighbors the son and his mother were harboring Serbian Chetniks, extreme Serbian nationalists, said Osijek officials.

Police said the occupants rejected a call to surrender and instead opened fire on the officers, who responded with rocket grenades and automatic fire.

The Serbian mother's arm was blown off when she tried to pick up a grenade fired by Croatian police and throw it back. 'She was more dangerous than any man in this place,' said Arambasic.

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He said she was firing at the police with 'heavy military weapons.'

'We used strong weapons, bombs and anti-tank rockets and such things,' he said. When asked if there were more people in the house Arambasic answered, 'I suppose there were more terrorists there, but they got away through tunnels in the ground.'

Police later bulldozed the house down and there was no sign of tunnels.

Said one man who shot squealing pigs trapped in the rubble, 'We love pigs, but not Chetniks. Every pig is more honest and beautiful than the Chetniks.'

In another incident, 250 miles away, Croatian police officer Ivica Jurica was killed and three other policemen wounded late Wednesday when suspected rebel Serbs fired at a patrol car on a main road near Zadar, on the central Adriatic coast, Zagreb Radio reported.

Sporadic shootings and explosions were reported early Thursday in the Osijek area. One explosion blasted an Osijek cafe and gunfire was reported from several places in the town.

Explosions and shootings were also reported in Serbian-dominated villages near Osijek and Vinkovci.

Referring to shootings and explosions in the nearby villages of Tenja, Mirkovci and Borovo Selo, Osijek Mayor Zlatko Kramaric accused the Yugoslav army of 'extending various forms of support' to Serbian nationalists, known as Chetniks.

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A 10-member EC mission of civilian and military experts was in Yugoslavia for talks with federal and republics' leaders about a peace plan reached Monday. The mission came to organize free movement for an EC observer team to monitor compliance with the Brioni Accord.

On the Yugoslav northern Adriatic island of Brioni, three EC foreign ministers and federal and republics leaders worked out the plan to stop hostilities for three months to allow negotiations about the future of the multi-ethnic federation of 23 million.

The assemblies of secessionist Croatia and Slovenia and the federal government have accepted the Brioni Accord.

Slovenia and Croatia declared independence June 25 and two days later federal troops were sent to secure the Slovenia borders with Italy, Austria and Hungary.

Slovenian militia resisted and at least 64 people were killed in clashes.

In the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, 330 miles west of Belgrade, Information Minister Jelko Kacin reported Thursday several incidents in his northwestern republic that left one dead Wednesday night.

A Slovenian militiaman in Ljubljana was fatally hurt when his anti- tank missile exploded. He died in a Ljubljana hospital, Kacin said.

An explosion rocked the Sentvid barracks but the military denied any casualties, Kacin said.

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The nationalist governments of Slovenia and Croatia want to secede from the six-republic federation or might agree to an alliance of independent states. But Communist-ruled Serbia, the largest republic, and the Yugoslav military, dominated by Serbian generals, want to keep the federation together.

Out of Yugoslavia's 8.5 million Christian Orthodox Serbs, about 1.4 million live in the central Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina and 600,000 in Croatia.

The Croatian leadership accuses Serbian Communist President Slobodan Milosevic of fomenting historic hatreds and a rebellion of Serbs in Croatia to help create a 'Great Serbia' that would include all of Yugoslavia but Slovenia and a small part of Croatia.

Milosevic claims Serbs in Croatia are being persecuted and said Serbia will not permit Croatia to secede with its Serbian-dominated enclaves from Yugoslavia, threatening it would mean a civil war.

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