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MND-N, Orasje, distinguishes

By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barbé
First published in
SFOR Informer#111, April 18, 2001

About 100 SFOR soldiers deployed April 6 in the centre town of Orasje to enter the local agency of the Hercegovacka Banka (HB). The operation was done on request from the Federation government and the Office of the High Representative (OHR). There were no incidents to report.
On April 14 at the end of the day, SFOR had removed tanks and other weapons from four storage sites in the town of Orasje to put them under the control of soldiers loyal to the Federation. Those weapons were stored in the barracks of the 4th Motorised guard Brigade of Orasje and in Donja Mahala, a village close to the city. The operation happened without incident.
But other events happened during last weekend in that town located about 200 km up north of Sarajevo, near the Croatian border. The situation remained tense for a few days following the resignation of Col. Tomo Knezevic, former commander of the 4th Brigade. He called all the soldiers under his command to desert. A demonstration that gathered about 1,000 people was held in the streets of the town April 12. There were no incidents to report.
SFOR, particularly American soldiers from Camp McGovern, keeps on its mission of watching over weapon storage sites.
One week before, on April 5, some civilians and members of Bosnian-Croats veteran war associations entered the barracks and the headquarters of the 4th Guard Motorised Brigade "Sinovi Posavine" (the sons of Posavina) in Orasje and the headquarters of the 4th Division in Odzak.
Those barracks had been locked after they were abandoned by the troops after Mr. Ante Jelavic's appeal to desert in late March.
They were about 500 protesters to gather in the streets of Orasje on Thursday April 5. After the negotiations with SFOR and the commandant of the 4th Brigade, they left the barracks and the headquarters. On the other hand, that same day, civilians entered some of the eight weapon storage sites in Orasje. However, the Federation troops kept on ensuring the control of the sites. SFOR showed its presence and support by increasing its patrols in the area.
Canton 2 (also called "Posavina") has a particular geographical location. It's cut out of the rest of the Federation by Republika Srpska. Orasje is the site of one of the four brigades that build the Bosnian-Croat part of the army of the Federation. At the moment, according to Mr. Mijo Anic, the Federation Minister of Defence, 83 percent of the military brigade had already signed again contracts with the Federation's army. Thus, they show their will to remain within their units.

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