Sarajevo braces itself for soccer war

All nationalists symbols, including pictures of the Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, will be confiscated from fans at the high risk 2006 World Cup qualifier against Serbia-Montenegro over the weekend, say Sarajevo police.

    Nationalist flags, symbols and pictures won't be allowed

    "Nationalist flags, symbols and pictures of those who have nothing to do with football but may provoke anger of the other side, like pictures of Karadzic, will be confiscated from fans before they enter the stadium," said police spokesman Magbul Skoro on Tuesday.

      

    "We warn fans to take only official flags and symbols with them."

      

    He described the match on 9 October as a "high risk event," without revealing the number of police officers to provide security.

      

    Prospects for violence during the match are high as fans of Bosnia and Serbia-Montenegro - then called Yugoslavia - clashed after the first friendly played in Sarajevo two years ago.

     

    Clash

     

    Policemen faced the brunt of
    violence in 2002 match

    Nineteen policemen and several fans were hurt after the match in the mainly-Muslim capital as police tried to prevent fans of the Bosnian team and Bosnian Serbs, who came to Sarajevo to cheer Yugoslav players, from clashing.

      

    At the time Yugoslav supporters were carrying posters with Karadzic's photo and chanted his name.

     

    Strain

      

    Relations between the two neighbours have been strained since the brutal 1992-95 war that broke out when Bosnia proclaimed independence from the Serb-dominated Yugoslav federation.

      

    "We warn fans to take only official flags and symbols with them"

    Magbul Skoro,
    police spokesman, Sarajevo

    Bosnian Serbs, who opposed the move, were backed during the war by the government of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, currently on trial before the UN war crimes tribunal for genocide and crimes allegedly committed during the Balkan wars.

      

    Bosnian Serbs were expected to attend Saturday's match to support Serbia-Montenegro, underlining the still deep ethnic divisions in Bosnia.

      

    Karadzic, still considered a hero by most Bosnian Serbs, has been indicted by the UN tribunal for war crimes and genocide committed during Bosnia's war.

    SOURCE: AFP


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