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Bosnia: NATO Troops Deploy To Cool Tensions


Banja Luka, Bosnia; 18 August 1997 (RFE/RL) -- British troops of the NATO-led Stabilisation force (SFOR) in Bosnia, backed by armored vehicles, deployed in the northern town of Banja Luka yesterday to prevent possible violence between rival Bosnian special police units.

And late last night, the British troops were still surrounding the police building while United Nations police questioned officers from the rival special police units. NATO officials said the force is trying to cool tensions.

Earlier yesterday, a special police unit led by Major Dragan Lukac, chief of security for Bosnian serb president Biljana Plavsic, entered the main police station in Banja Luka, the town that is Plavic's base. Journalists there said the unit loyal to Plavsic was then surrounded by about 150 armed special police loyal to her predecessor, Radovan Karadzic, now an indicted war crimes suspect.

Lukac said his men seized the building because they believed telephones and faxes in the president's office were being tapped by her hardline opponents. But a NATO spokesman, John Blakely, said action by the Plavsic loyalists violated new NATO-decreed guidelines.

Earlier yesterday, Plavsic vowed to press ahead with early elections despite an unfavorable ruling last week from the Bosnian Serb constitutional court which is loyal to Karadzic.
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