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Bosnia: Pro-Karadzic Leaders Escorted From Hotel

Banja Luka, 9 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO forces ended a dangerous standoff between rival Bosnian Serb factions today, escorting the top aide to war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic from a hotel surrounded by hostile police and thousands of angry Serbs. Momcilo Krajisnik, Karadzic's top aide and the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, and several of his top aides had been trapped inside.

Police loyal to Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic blocked access to the hotel in the center of Banja Luka early today.

Diplomats and officials of the NATO-led peace force negotiated with Krajisnik's security men and Plavsic's police to release him and other senior officials. Others in Krajisnik's delegation included Dragan Kalanic, the speaker of the Bosnian Serb assembly, and Gojko Klickovic, the Bosnian Serb prime minister.

Peace force troops escorted Krajisnik and several aides through a hostile crowd of thousands this afternoon. U.S. mediator Jacques Klein said the delegation would be taken to a NATO base.

Krajisnik and his staff were chased into the hotel by pro-Plavsic crowds after holding a banned outdoor rally in Banja Luka yesterday. The rally followed talks between Plavsic and Krajisnik earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ) called today for a boycott of municipal elections in Bosnia due this Saturday and Sunday. The Bosnian Croat party said in a statement that conditions for a "free, democratic and fair election" do not exist.