BY FRANCES tvii-CiLIINNESS
A SIXTH CATHOLIC CHURCH
was blown up at the weekend in the Bosnian Serbcontrolled enclave of Banja Luka, Church authorities said this week.
The Church authorities also said that "ethnic cleansing" of non-Serbs was continuing in the area. Mgr Franjo Komarica, the Catholic Bishop of Banja Luka, said that in the past week, 15 C oat families in the town had b en expelled from their h mes and taken away by armed men to an unknown destination.
He said he had written to Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, asking him to end the "injustices committed by local authorities" against non-Serbs. In a letter to the Mayor of Zagreb, Pedrag Radic, the Bishop asked for "clear directives regarding what you intend to do with our people". Bishop Komarica added that large numbers of Catholics have been rounded up and taken to
unknown destinations. These have included 20 children and sick and elderly people he added.
"Someone, certainly you, must know why the continuation of this obvious violence upon Catholics in our community is tolerated", he told the mayor.
"Find a way to protect us, as it has been promised," the bishop said.
The bishop wrote the letters shortly after ending a oneweek hunger strike to protest at the persecution of Catholics. • Five Catholic churches and chapels were destroyed last month in the enclave in northwestern Bosnia, killing a priest and two nuns. Four other churches were attacked.
Meanwhile, Western leaders warned the Serbs that they had made a huge tactical error in taking hostages, as they had turned world opinion against them. Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, said that release of the hostages was now a top priority for Britain, but that the five nation Contact Group wa unanimous in its wish to re-establish the humanitarian operation in the region.
Talks with Serbian President Milosevic were to continue, the group said, in order to obtain a political settlement for the conflict. But already the first six British 105 mm guns to enter Bosnia arrived this week amid confusion over when and where they might be fired.
Some military experts fear that the newly-created rapid reaction force for Bosnia, the first of its kind in the history of the United Nations peacekeeping missions, could lead to an increase in hostile actions against the Bosnian Serbs.
The force would have a .simplified chain of command, allowing the troops to retaliate far more swiftly than previously.
From Russia, President Boris Yeltsin this week promised to step up pressure on Belgrade to help to win freedom for the remaining UN hostages.