By 1st Lt. Pedro Fernández Vicente
First published in
SFOR Informer#128, December 12, 2001
On the night of Dec. 3 a group of about 25 Bosnian
Croats attacked and burned the wooden fence that surrounded a
mosque reconstruction site in Stolac. Local police - monitored
by the International Police Task Force (IPTF) - arrested two of
Stolac - The Emperor's Mosque, also called "Careva,"
was one of the monuments that were destroyed in the last war;
B-Croats sold each stone. Now the Bosniacs have recovered the
material and are restoring it. The monument was built during the
Ottoman Empire, over a Christian Church site in the 16th century.
The site is on the list of national monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina
and has already been the scene of unrest when reconstruction began
in June this year.
knew for sure what the trigger was that sparked off the recent
riots. According to local sources, however, it could have been
a clash between a B-Croat and a construction worker. On Dec. 3,
a stone was thrown from the building site which hit and wounded
an inhabitant. Later that day a group of about 25 people arrived
at the site, dismantled the wooden fence and set it on fire. The
disturbances took place between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. The local Federation
police were present but could not prevent it. A large number of
Muslim people had gathered in the area and the police sought to
avoid an escalation of violence. An SFOR platoon from the Spanish
Battle Group (SBG) was parked in the outskirts of Stolac to give
cover to the IPTF and local police. At the end of the riots, local
police arrested two B-Croats. But during the night they managed
to escape without anyone's knowledge.
This detention was the reason for the bigger demonstration on
the following night. The local police, however, had been reinforced
with a unit of riot police. During the night the two escapees
and two others gave themselves up and were held in the central
police station in Mostar.
The next morning the situation in Stolac was of total calm, the
only evidence of the night before being the embers of bonfires
and the presence of riot officers in the police station. The local
police by then had the situation under control.
The SBG continued to park out of sight of the public so that they
could provide cover to the IPTF and police without aggravating
the situation. Only during the night did a platoon with armoured
personnel carriers patrol the town. This was done in a non-threatening
manner in order to create a safe and secure environment.
Nations of SFOR: Spain
SFOR at Work