NATO botches rescue raid

About 40 US, UK and German troops in helicopters and vehicles took part in the raid, which targeted the Orthodox Church and the nearby priest’s accommodation in the town of Pale.

The wife of Father Jeremija Starovlah told Reuters her husband and son were injured when troops burst into the family home next to the church in the town that was a stronghold of Karadzic.

She said: “We were awoken by shooting. Soldiers burst into the house and immediately took them to another room … a soldier put a gun to my head. I heard my husband cry for help, but I could do nothing. I don’t know if they are still alive.”

A doctor confirmed they were both in a coma late on Friday.

A NATO spokesman said the two were flown to a US base in northern Bosnia near Tuzla and were taken to the city’s hospital for treatment.

Captain Dave Sullivan, spokesman for the NATO-led force SFOR, said: “We did not find the individual we were looking for. We conducted a focused operation … to detain Radovan Karadzic. We searched an administrative accommodation building but we failed to locate him.”

The raid began when a convoy of US troops rolled into Pale shortly about 0915 AEST on Thursday, according to a resident who said he saw the entire operation.

Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and an explosion, as at least four NATO helicopters hovered over the centre of the town, in the mountains above the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

SFOR has recently intensified its seven-year hunt for Karadzic, wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague on two charges of genocide for the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims in the 1992-95 war.

The former leader of the breakaway Bosnian Serb republic has a $A6.5 million bounty on his head.

He and his former army commander General Ratko Mladic rank as the most wanted Balkan fugitives still at large.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation