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NATO Launches Massive But Futile Hunt for Karadzic - 2002-02-28


NATO-led peacekeepers have launched a major operation in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina but failed to locate Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic.

An alliance statement says the troops seized three caches of illegal weapons at a compound in the area (around Celibici) near the town of Foca, southeast of Sarajevo. But it said the troops failed to find Mr. Karadzic.

Bosnian Serb media reports say troops used helicopters and armored vehicles in the operation. They say peacekeepers entered houses, schools, churches and other facilities. Telephone and radio communications also reportedly were blocked and electricity cut off.

The United Nations tribunal in The Hague has indicted Mr. Karadzic and his military chief General Ratko Mladic for war crimes in connection with the shelling of civilians in Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict. The tribunal also indicted both men for their role in the disappearance of as many as eight thousand Muslim men and boys after Serb forces captured the enclave of Srebrenica in July, 1995.

International humanitarian organizations say the Serbs massacred those missing, though only about four thousand bodies have been recovered from mass graves so far.

More than 20 war crimes suspects -- most Bosnian Serbs -- are still at large including Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic.

The Bosnian Serb government earlier this month gave war crimes suspects a 30-day deadline to surrender or lose their chance of being provisionally released on bail if detained.

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