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Bosnian Serbs Make First War Crimes Arrests

Bosnian-Serb police have arrested eight people accused of committing war crimes against Muslims between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Officials of a Sarajevo court, which ordered the arrests, said Bosnian police detained eight suspects after the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague gave the green light for local trials.

The officials said two of the men were indicted for genocide and the others have been charged with committing crimes against civilians.

The war crime suspects, who are being held in the court's detention facility, were the first arrested by Bosnian-Serb police since the end of a three-year war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which killed at least a quarter of a million people and left close to two-million people homeless.

Local media reported that the men were arrested during police raids in the towns of Pale, Lukavica and Foca, once known as the hubs of hard-line Serb nationalism.

There have been conflicting reports on whether the suspects were on the wanted list of the U.N. tribunal.

The government of the ethnic Serbian part of Bosnia-Herzegovina apologized last week for the killings of up to eight-thousand Muslim men and boys by Bosnian-Serb forces in Srebrenica in 1995. It said it "sympathizes with the pain" of relatives of the victims, and expressed "sincere regret and apologies."

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Sunday his government cannot arrest war crimes suspects sought by the U.N. Tribunal because it would, in his words, undermine the Balkan republic's stability.

But Mr. Kostunica stressed he realized the pressure from the international community, including the United States and Europe, which have linked financial aid packages to cooperation with the U.N. court.

The prime minister said authorities are "trying to negotiate" the surrender of at least some of the 15 Serb suspects sought by the court. But Jovan Simic, an advisor to Serbian president Boris Tadic, has accused Mr. Kostunica of shirking his responsibilities. Mr. Tadic has urged the government to cooperate with the Tribunal.