SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The mayor of Srebrenica, the site of Europe's worst massacre since World War II, has accused Bosnian Serb authorities of harassing Muslims under the pretext of investigating Islamic extremists.
Camil Durakovic, a Bosnian Muslim, said Thursday that Serb police from outside town stormed the homes of Muslims who returned after Bosnia's 1990s ethnic war, and carried out arrests without explanation. He called it a "form of repression."
"Terrorism is a serious global problem and we must all fight against it, but you cannot use it as an excuse to send masked, armed men to search houses of Bosnian Muslims and arrest people without any evidence," Durakovic said.
After the war, Bosnia split into two semi-autonomous parts, a Serb-run Republic and a federation shared by Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Each has its own president, government and police, but they are linked by weak state-level institutions. The United Nations calls the slaughter by Bosnian Serb troops of 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995 a genocide. The town remains in the Serb-run half of Bosnia.
Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian Muslim president, also voiced concern by saying police have "overstepped their authority."
"We will not allow harassment of returnees under the guise of a fight against terrorism," said Izetbegovic.
Bosnian Serb police on Wednesday raided dozens of locations and detained 30 people, including two in Srebrenica, on suspicion of links with Islamic extremists. The operation comes after a Muslim gunman killed one policeman and wounded two others as he stormed a police station last week in northeast Bosnia, yelling "Allahu Akbar." Investigators believe the 24-year-old gunman has links to Islamic extremists.
Bosnian Serb Police Chief Dragan Lukac defended the raids, saying all units under his command were on heightened alert after the attack.
"We will not sit idle and wait for another attack against our officers and our institutions," he said.
Lukac said 11 of the arrested will be transferred to the Bosnian Serb prosecutor because searches of their property turned up "weapons, uniforms, propaganda material and flags with Arabic writing on them."