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Bosnia: Troops Find Illegal Weapons At Police Station

Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina; 20 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - British troops in Bosnia say they found three truckloads of arms and ammunition during a search of one of five police facilities surrounded by NATO-led forces in Banja Luka today. The action was taken at the request of the UN International Police Task Force (IPTF) which says it wants to investigate human rights violations in Bosnian Serb police stations in Banja Luka.

A spokesman for the Stabilization Force (SFOR), Mike Wright, says British and Czech SFOR troops, backed by armored vehicles, surrounded the Banja Luka police academy, the police headquarters and three police stations.

IPTF deputy commander Werner Schum told reporters UN police found large quantities of weapons in the main police station, including machine guns, rocket launchers and mines, which were not there on a previous search on Sunday.

He said that after an initial stand-off NATO troops persuaded police loyal to indicted war crime suspect Radovan Karadzic to leave and allow newly appointed police chiefs to take over. Hardline police in the entity have been a key backer of Karadzic, whom western countries say should be turned over to an international war crimes tribunal.

The move came one day after Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic told international mediators she fears a possible coup by hardliners loyal to Karadzic.

Plavsic has accused hardline police of tapping her telephone calls and special police units loyal to her recently confronted hardline police in Banja Luka.

International High Representative to Bosnia Carlos Westendorp and U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard held talks with Plavsic in Banja Luka yesterday and said that elections are the best solution to resolving the standoff.