Bosnian Serb president criticizes European Union peacekeepers

The president of the Serb-run half of Bosnia criticized European Union peacekeepers after the wife of a suspected war criminal was shot dead during an arrest raid. The suspect and his 12-year-old child were also wounded in the exchange of fire that broke as EU troops tried to arrest the man in eastern Bosnia on Thursday.

The Bosnian Serb leader, Dragan Cavic, sent a letter of protest to the EU force, known as EUFOR, late Thursday. "Nobody has a mandate to murder," Cavic wrote. He called the operation "a manifestation of brutal force and violation of the European Convention on human rights."

The suspect, identified as Dragomir Abazovic, 47, was in critical condition following the shootout near Rogatica, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of the capital, Sarajevo, police and hospital officials said. There was no word on the boy's condition.

Lt. Col. Jem Thomas, EUFOR spokesman, said EU troops opened fire after they were shot at, and the suspect "injured himself" when he was unable to escape.

"It is tragic that the result of their operation is the death of the wife of an alleged suspect and severe injury of his son," Cavic said, adding that this "destroys the reputation of EUFOR and public's trust" in its forces. A local court in Bosnia had indicted the Serb man on war crimes charges.

The 6,500-strong EUFOR force is involved in searching for fugitive war criminals and in combating organized crime throughout Bosnia. It took over from a NATO force in 2004.

The peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war left the country divided into a Bosnian Serb mini-state and a Muslim-Croat Federation. Each have their own government and are linked by joint state institutions, reports the AP. I.L.

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