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Bosnia war crimes suspect kills himself

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October 14, 2000 


AMSTERDAM, OCT 13 (AP) - A war crimes suspect resisting arrest in Bosnia detonated a hand grenade that killed himself and wounded four German soldiers of the NATO-led peace force, officials said Friday.

Janko Janjic, 43, on Thursday night threw the grenade as troops tried to seize him at his brother's home in the Serb-held town of Foca, 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Sarajevo. Vowing to never be captured alive, Janjic always carried a grenade.

Janjic was one of four Bosnian Serb subcommanders indicted for the torture, rape and enslavement of women and girls in Foca in the summer of 1992.

He was the third war crimes suspect in the former Yugoslavia to die resisting arrest by international troops that were dispatched to the area after the 1995 Dayton Agreement. But it was the first time peacekeepers suffered casualties in an arrest attempt, said Paul Risley, spokesman for the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The German Defense Ministry said the wounded soldiers were from a specially trained unit in the Foca area, which is under the control of the German contingent. None of the injuries were critical.

NATO headquarters in Brussels said the soldiers "did not fire their weapons" during the arrest attempt.

Janjic was severely injured when he detonated a hand grenade and died shortly afterward, said German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping.

Foca Police Chief Zoran Mandic said the soldiers used explosives to blast open the apartment door of Janjic's brother, who was home with his wife two teen-age daughters.

Janjic's sister-in-law fainted from the blast and was detained for an hour at a nearby military camp. Janjic's brother suffered minor injuries from the explosion.

Janjic's body was taken by the troops and will be returned to the family after formal identification, the police chief said.

A prewar car mechanic, Janjic was involved in the Serb attack on Foca and its surrounding villages and the arrest of civilians. He became one of the subcommanders of the Serb military police and a paramilitary leader in Foca.

Three other Bosnian Serbs went on trial in The Hague in March for the Foca atrocities, in the first attempt by an international tribunal to prosecute for wartime sexual enslavement.

Suspects have violently resisted arrest by international peacekeepers only three times before, said Risley, the tribunal spokesman.

British troops killed one man reaching for his gun in 1997, and French troops shot another trying to run a roadblock in 1998. On a third occasion, a suspect shot at a Dutch soldier, but the bullet lodged harmlessly in his body armor and the suspect was captured, Risley said.

The tribunal has issued public indictments against 94 alleged war criminals, and secret indictments against others. Twenty were safely arrested by the peacekeepers and extradited.

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