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Bosnia: Hardliners Free Banja Luka Police Chief

Banja Luka, Bosnia; 19 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - The newly appointed police chief of Banja Luka was arrested by hardline Bosnian Serb state security men today, but was released after refusing their demands he resign.

Word of the arrest came from the new acting head of state security in Banja Luka, Predrag Ceranic. He told the Reuters news agency Milan Sutilovic was ordered to sign a document on his own suspension, but refused to do so, and that after about 30 minutes Sutilovic was released.

Sutilovic is new to the job, having only been appointed by Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic this past Sunday. His appointment came after Plavsic's security forces took over the local police station in ongoing tensions between Plavsic and rival Bosnian Serb nationalist hardliners -- namely, former President and indicted war crime suspect Radovan Karadzic.

Later in the day, a spokesman for the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), Major John Blakeley, said the force has moved extra troops to Banja Luka as a security precaution.

He said there is no violence there, but described the situation in the city as "still tense."