February 5, 1996
Web posted at: 12:15 a.m. EST (0515 GMT)
TUZLA, Bosnia (CNN) -- The body of the U.S. soldier killed in northern Bosnia arrived in Germany Sunday en route to the United States.
Early reports had said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Allen Dugan of Belle Center, Ohio was the first American soldier to be killed in action since the NATO alliance began stationing peacekeeping forces in Bosnia in December. The initial reports said he apparently stepped on a mine while manning an isolated checkpoint at Gradacac, 25 miles north of the main U.S. base in Tuzla.
But Monday's New York Times quoted a NATO statement as saying, "indications are that Dugan did not step on a mine or cause a tripwire to activate a mine." The newspaper said an investigation into the death has begun, and "there was no evidence of 'any hostile actions against him.'"
There are about 20,000 U.S. troops in Bosnia. A U.S. military spokesman said Dugan had been with a scout platoon assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Cavalry Brigade.
"He gave his life for the noblest of causes -- the search for peace," President Clinton said Saturday. Defense Secretary William Perry said he was "deeply saddened by the loss." (204 AIFF sound or 204 WAV sound)
And NATO Secretary General Javier Solana relayed his deepest sympathy to the soldier's family. Dugan was married and had four children.
"The soldier who died this afternoon was making an essential contribution to IFOR's mission to bring peace to Bosnia," Solana said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the office of Carl Bildt, civilian IFOR chief, has given Serb police 45 more days to patrol the Sarajevo suburbs that are being turned over to Muslim-Croat control, angering the Bosnian government. Bosnian government officials said they wanted the police disarmed.
"The attitude of the Bosnian side is that . . . there must not be any armed persons in the (suburbs) except the members of the international police task force and (NATO)," the Bosnian government press agency said, citing a statement from the office of central government Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic.
Bildt's office explained the extended patrols by saying the fears of the local Serb population must be allayed before the Bosnian government takes complete control in March.
A U.S. Humvee was hit by sniper fire Saturday in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza but there were no casualties, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Rayner reported. Two British soldiers were slightly wounded by sniper fire in Ilidza, a NATO spokesman said.
In addition to threatening NATO peacekeepers' lives, land mines buried throughout Bosnia have hampered investigations for alleged mass graves.
Top U.N. missing persons expert Manfred Nowak said the coal mine of Ljubija in northwest Bosnia could be one of the largest mass graves found so far. He said land mines dispersed around the open pit likely would delay any digging until April. He visited the site on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher arrived Sunday in Belgrade to meet with Serb President Slobodan Milosevic.
The trip to Belgrade is the final leg of Christopher's Balkan tour, during which he has sought to keep pressure on the three Bosnian factions to fully honor their commitments under the Dayton peace agreement.
Christopher spent several hours Saturday in Bosnia visiting U.S. troops with the international peacekeeping force at Tuzla and meeting with Bosnian leaders in Sarajevo.
In a related development, the chief prosecutor of the United
Nations war crimes tribunal said Sunday the chances of
prosecuting war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia
have improved, because of actions by Croatia and Serbia.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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