Brent Sadler, CNN Correspondent
July 19, 1995
7:00 PM EDT
For days Zepa's defenses had looked set to succumb to the inevitable, defeat at the hands of the Bosnian Serb Army. Serb troops inched their way into the enclave.
United Nations peacekeepers were again caught in the middle of retreating Muslim soldiers and advancing Serbs. The town's capture seemed a foregone conclusion.
Colonel Gary Coward, UN military spokesman, "Certainly there have been battle noises around the town of Zepa. Perhaps very close to Zepa itself. And, thus, the evidence would suggest that it is only a matter of time. And then in the wake of that battle, then it's a question of what to do about the civilian population." Preparations for that eventuality are already well in hand.
A huge area in Zenica has been cleared to take the many thousands of civilians expected to leave Zepa. As engineers leveled the site to accommodate a tent encampment, Zepa's mayor was reporting by radio that widespread panic had broken out in the UN safe-haven.
Cindy Soh, the UNHCR field officer, "We will use this only if we don't have enough space in Zenica to accommodate the arrivals. We want to be prepared but our first option is not to use such a site."
Hundreds of yards of razor wire has being laid out to secure the perimeter. Hardly a comforting image. Particularly for women and children who may find themselves going through the same trauma and suffering which accompanied last week's exodus from Srebrencia. When that enclave fell Dutch peacekeepers were also caught in the middle but they managed to negotiate.
UN commanders in Zepa hope that can be, but like in Srebrenica it would happen only after the civilian population had been moved. In Tuzla more groups of tired and disheveled government soldiers from Srebrenica were reaching their own lines. It's estimated that 4,000 people escaped but thousands are still missing.
Meanwhile, in the Bosnian capital more scenes of bloodshed and sorrow. They tried to save the live of a 13 year-old boy hit in the head by shrapnel. There was no hope. A relative waiting outside the makeshift hospital collapsed upon hearing of his death.
Deaths and injuries occur with sickening repetition. "Dying has become a way of life here with no apparent end in sight. The executive of the United Nations insists that the beleaguered protection force must stay in place, despite the recent set-backs,...a force which has been barely able to defend itself, let alone the people it's supposed to help.
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