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April 24, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 186
Cilipi and Prevlaka

Bombing Reason

by Velizar Brajovic

The pre-Easter festivities in Dubrovnik were interrupted on Thursday, April 13 by shells from the Herzegovina corps. Cilipi airport was targeted from 11:30 to 13:00 hours after several days of intense flights of arriving tourists. Shells landed on Konavle at 17:00 that afternoon, killing one person, the Croatian army said, and wounding three others. A shell damaged the runway and another hit a fuel depot, enough damage to make tourists cancel their trips. Was that the goal of the attack?

That's exactly what outgoing UNPROFOR spokesman Michael Williams said in his last report. Montenegrin state media said nothing about the shelling.

The attack was confirmed to VREME by Trebinje mayor Bozidar Vucurevic, leader of the Herzegovina Serbs. "We replied to fire with fire," he said and added that they could no longer stand constant Croatian army attacks deep into Serb army positions and settlements. Vucurevic said the Croatian army attacks killed one young man recently. He refused to provide details about the attack by his forces or why those targets were picked but he was adamant about it being a clash with the Croatian army not the Croat Defence Force.

Asked whether he realized the attack on Dubrovnik cast doubts on the coming tourist season and whether there were contacts later Vucurevic said: "Unfortunately, no. Just through shells".

"Almost a third of the Trebinje municipality has been occupied by Croatia," he said, "and they don't allow us to farm our land, use the roads and expect to calmly land at Cilipi airport and develop tourism. How can Croatia expect to develop tourism when we can't farm our land. I am telling them that the minister of air transport and tourism is in Trebinje and they won't live quietly until they improve relations with Serb Herzegovina."

He explained that the term minister was used figuratively, to let them know that Trebinje will decide who lands at Cilipi. The condition to suspend that stand are improved relations with Serb Herzegovina, i.e. the return of lands held by the Croatian army.

Vucurevic sees the cease-fire as a meaningless story. "I think a new April war has started for the third time in Yugoslavia and will end through war. The war won't end until the Bosnian Serb Republic (RS) gains access to the sea."

Whether that war began with the shelling of Dubrovnik to let Croatia know that there will be no tourist season unless they agree to Herzegovina's conditions remains to be seen. Judging by everything that happened so far, the conclusion could be that the shelling was not so much a result of Croatia's military provocation but Herzegovina's economic concerns, like Williams pointed out.

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