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Despite Setbacks, NATO Continues Searching for Karadzic - 2002-03-01


NATO-led peacekeepers in Bosnia have again failed to find top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic after conducting a second straight day of searches for him in a remote part of the country near the border with Montenegro. But, the alliance has vowed to continue its hunt for the former Bosnian Serb leader, who is wanted for genocide by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

It was the second operation in 24 hours by the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia to capture Mr. Karadzic. Backed by helicopters and armored vehicles, the peacekeepers swooped into the same area they raided on Thursday in their search for the elusive wartime leader of Bosnia's Serbs.

S-FOR spokesman, Captain Daryl Morrell, said the troops acted on new intelligence that Mr. Karadzic was still in the area.

"Our operation this morning took place near the town of Celebici in Republika Srpska. We had multinational forces. We used combined ground and air forces. And, while we didn't seize him, we're continuing our efforts to apprehend him," Captain Morrell said.

Republika Srpska is the Bosnian Serb republic set up by the 1995 Dayton peace agreement along with a Muslim-Croat federation as autonomous entities within Bosnia.

NATO officials say they believe Mr. Karadzic moves from house to house on a nightly basis within the remote area where the search for him has taken place over the past two days.

He is known to have widespread support among the local populace and is thought to be surrounded by bodyguards.

Captain Morrell has said Mr. Karadzic would do well to turn himself in to the war crimes tribunal. "We're calling on him to surrender to the appropriate authorities before he's forcibly apprehended. We also call on the government of Republika Srpska to fulfill its commitment to the Dayton peace accords by turning in persons who have been indicted for war crimes," Captain Morrell said.

Republika Srpska police have yet to arrest a single war crimes suspect. NATO, too, has long been criticized for not apprehending Mr. Karadzic. But officials at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels say the back-to-back raids Thursday and Friday signal that NATO's resolve to capture him has hardened and that time is running out for Mr. Karadzic and other indicted war criminals still on the run.

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