February 1, 1996
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST (0430 GMT)
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- The sporadic calm in Bosnia was shattered once again Thursday as violence marked the first day of February for the NATO peace mission.
French troops patrolling Sarajevo as part of NATO's peace mission killed a sniper in a Serb-held suburb. Earlier in the day, two American soldiers were wounded when they stepped on a land mine near Tuzla.
The French action was the first time NATO forces had killed someone from Bosnia's once-warring factions since they landed in the region to enforce the U.S.-brokered peace accord signed two months ago.
At least six suspected sniping incidents have marred the fragile peace this week in Sarajevo. Two soldiers -- an American and a British soldier --suffered minor wounds from the sniping.
A French military statement said the two gunmen were found in the Ilidza area of the demilitarized "zone of separation" between Serb-held suburbs and government-held Sarajevo.
The statement did not identify the snipers, but NATO officers have made it clear they believe them to be Serbs.
Under the Bosnian peace accord, Ilidza and other Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo will come under the rule of the Muslim-Croat Federation on March 20.
Earlier Thursday the commander of NATO forces in Bosnia, U.S. Adm. Leighton Smith, pledged to take swift retaliation against the snipers.
"We've got some jerk up there pulling a trigger and he's got a nightscope. That makes it tough," Smith told reporters in Washington.
"But, boy, let me tell you, if we do see him he had better be fast and be clad in bullet-proof stuff because we will attack without warning."
NATO ground forces commander Lt.-Gen. Michael Walker, who works from a fortified hotel complex in Ilidza, told Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik to stop the sniping incidents, Bosnian Serb television reported Thursday.
Krajisnik condemned the incidents, the television said.
The land mine explosion injured one soldier's leg and right foot. The second serviceman suffered shrapnel wounds to his lower body, but was able to walk away from the scene.
Both soldiers were taken by medical helicopter to the 212 Medical Army Surgical Hospital. They are attached to the 40th Engineering Battalion, 3rd Squadron of the 4th Cavalry.
"Two American engineers were ... conducting a joint inspection of a mine field with the Bosnian Serb army," a NATO statement said. Serb officials were present but were not injured by the blast.
The explosion in Hadizici, 10 miles southeast of Tuzla, happened at 2:30 p.m. local time in an area that reportedly had been cleared of mines by Serbs.
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