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Europe

EU Troops Kill Wife of Bosnian Serb War Crimes Suspect in Raid

The wife of a Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect died Thursday from wounds suffered in a gunfight during an attempt by European peacekeepers to arrest him, authorities said.

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EUFOR peacekeepers ended up in a gun fight with a suspect in Bosnia

Rada Abazovic succumbed to loss of blood in hospital after the raid on their family home in Kozici village, close to the eastern town of Rogatica, said Veljko Maric, the director of the hospital in the nearby town of Foca. Her 47-year-old husband Dragomir, who was wanted by a court in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo over alleged atrocities committed in Rogatica during the Balkan state's 1992-1995 war, and 12-year-old son also suffered gunshot wounds.

"Rada Abazovic, 46, died from a loss of blood after being shot in the stomach" after being taken to the Foca hospital, Maric told AFP. "The boy was operated (on) and his life is not in danger. His father sustained serious head wounds and his condition is still not stable," said Maric.

The gun battle took place at about 9:30 a.m. (0830 UCT) when the EU peacekeepers returned fire after being shot at from the fugitive's house.

Warrant for arrest

The forces of the European Union in Bosnia, or EUFOR, confirmed there was a shooting incident in the vicinity of Rogatica, about 60 kilometers (37 miles), east of Sarajevo.

Bosnien Aktion gegen Kriegsverbrecher

Locals gathered nearby after the incident

"EUFOR troops were fired upon and they returned fire. During the exchange two people in the house were injured. The suspect, unable to escape, subsequently injured himself," said EUFOR spokesman Jem Thomas.

EUFOR said in a statement that the operation was carried out in accordance with a warrant issued in 1999 by the Sarajevo cantonal court for Abazovic's arrest.

A top leader from Bosnia's Serb entity criticized the raid as an unnecessary show of aggression and demanded that EUFOR's commander conduct an open investigation into the incident and that those responsible be punished.

"It acts as a serious incident which harms the reputation of EUFOR and which destroys confidence in this kind of military force," said Bosnian Serb President Dragan Cavic. "I am convinced that this action by EUFOR is a brutal show of force violating conventions on human rights," said Cavic.


Casualties in past raids

The more than 6,000 EUFOR troops provide a deterrence and continued compliance with provisions of the US-brokered Dayton peace agreement that ended the Bosnian war. Last year EUFOR took over from NATO-led peacekeeping forces that were deployed in the former Yugoslav republic after the war.

In April 2004 the brother of Serb war crimes suspect, Milan Lukic, was killed when local police raided his house. The same month a Serbian Orthodox priest and his 28-year-old son were seriously injured during a NATO swoop on their home in an attempt to capture top Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic. Karadzic and his wartime military chief Ratko Mladic remain at large more than a decade after the UN war crimes court issued indictments against them for their part in the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.

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