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BALKANS >Blast damages war monument in divided Bosnian town

SARAJEVO - Agence France-Presse

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A monument to Bosnian Muslim soldiers killed in the country's 1992-1995 war was damaged in a blast early Monday in Mostar, a town divided between its Croat and Muslim communities, police said.
 
Police official Srecko Bosnjak said no one was injured in the blast, which took place outside the city hall in downtown Mostar.
 
The explosion caused no other damage but sparked concern among residents, Srecko Bosnjak said. The perpetrator remained unknown, he added.
 
Mostar, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Sarajevo, saw fierce fighting between Muslims and Croats during the war. Almost two decades on, the town remains divided and tensions between the two ethnic groups still run high.
 
The damaged monument, shaped like a fleur-de-lys or lily -- the wartime symbol of the Muslim-dominated Bosnian army -- was erected last April by Muslim veterans' associations. A monument to Croat soldiers killed in the conflict stands nearby.
 
Mostar's city hall is located along a boulevard separating the majority Muslim and the Croat-dominated parts of the southern town.
 
The Office of the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia, which oversees civilian aspects of the peace deal that ended the 1992-1995 war, said it was "appalled" by the attack.
 
"This violence must not be allowed to spread," the agency said in a statement, urging the country's leaders to join in a condemnation of the attack and work to ease tensions in the Balkan country.
 
Though allies against the Serbs during most of the conflict, Croats and Muslims fought against each other for 17 months in 1993 and 1994, notably in Mostar.
 
Due to inter-ethnic wrangling, last October's local elections were not held in the town.
 
Tensions were additionally raised on Friday over a bill that could allow Croats to have their own public television channel, an idea fiercely rejected by Muslim political parties.

January/14/2013

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