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All quiet in MND-SW

By Cpl. Sébastien Pisani
First published in
SFOR Informer#111, April 18, 2001

BiH Southwest - The operation launched by the Office of the High Representative (OHR) on April 6 to carry out a search of Hercegovacka Banka head office and agencies went off without incidents in the Multinational Division - Southwest. The bank branches of Vitez and Tomislavgrad were visited by OHR investigators and civil servants of the Federation in charge of seizing different types of sensitive documents. These should establish if the banking institution was involved in deals that go against the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BiH (GFAP), as is suspected by the international community.
On that occasion, OHR requested the support of SFOR. The Dutch troops intervened in Vitez, in their area of responsibility, whereas the Canadians controlled the course of the operation in their AOR, in Tomislavgrad. "Our role was limited to guarantee the security of the persons having penetrated in Vitez agency. The Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) assured the surveillance of the building gate, whereas my men were standing back. Everything went off peacefully," said the Dutch Lt. Col. Henk-Jan Mayers, commander of the 44th Mechanized Battalion (Mechbat).
The success of the operation mostly depended on the media coverage ensured by the Dutch Battle Group and all of MND-SW. "Radio Vitez is in the same building as the Hercegovacka Banka. We took advantage of it to regularly inform the population. I explained live why a safety perimeter had been established around the agency and the OHR representative read a press statement clarifying goals of this operation," said Capt. André Van Wijk.
At the end of the morning, the OHR team and SFOR withdrew, taking with them different elements for temporary administrator, Mrs. Toby Robinson.
The same peace prevailed in Tomislavgrad, where the 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) was in support. "Elements of the Battle group established a safety cordon around the local branch of Hercegovacka Banka," said Capt. Guy Turpin, Canadian press officer. The operation lasted about 65 minutes and concluded with the seizure of documents and computers.

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