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Violence surges in Bosnia as snipers kill 9 at funeral service

An artillery round fired from a Serb-controlled area crashed into a cemetery Saturday, killing nine mourners.

And radio reports from the besieged eastern Bosnian town of Gorazde said a Serb artillery barrage killed dozens of Muslims.

The commander of U.N. forces, reacting to the surge in bloodletting, warned that the situation seemed to be spinning out of control and said Bosnia's three warring factions face a "last chance" to halt their relentless fighting or the U.N. contingent "will have no option but to withdraw."

The commander, French Gen. Philippe Morillon, mourned the death of a Spanish lieutenant shot Friday in Mostar in southern Bosnia, the 12th soldier killed under his command here.

"UNPROFOR troops are being forced more and more to return fire at those who choose to engage our forces," Morillon said, using an acronym for Bosnia's U.N. Protection Force.

At a hilltop cemetery above Sarajevo's 15th century Turkish quarter, the shell from a shoulder-fired recoilless rifle landed among about 30 mourners burying two women who had been killed in an earlier shelling attack, witnesses said. Neighborhood residents said the round landed just as the crowd had begun shoveling dirt into the graves.

Djamal Poturkovic, who lives near the cemetery, said the round struck an elderly imam, Asim Konakovic, who had conducted the burial rites.

A Serb-held hill faces the neighborhood across the narrow valley that embraces Sarajevo. "They watch and fire over here when they see a crowd," he said.

The attack was brutal _ but for Sarajevo, it also was commonplace. On Wednesday, a mortar round struck a street outside the barracks of U.N. troops from Egypt who had attracted a crowd by passing out candy. Two women and a boy were killed, and 19 people were injured.

An attendant at Sarajevo's morgue, Ramiz Alicehajic, checked the hand-inked ledger that records Sarajevo's dead. Saturday's death toll _ 12 people as of early evening _ was "a little more than ordinary, but not too unusual. We've had a lot worse," he said.

Shortly after he spoke, Serb forces fired several shells into another neighborhood, setting fires _ but any bodies from that attack would not reach the morgue until Sunday.

Amateur radio reports from Gorazde, cited by the Bosnian government radio, said Serb artillery and gunmen were attacking the Muslim-held enclave. The radio operators said 63 were killed and 82 wounded. They appealed for a helicopter evacuation of badly wounded people.

The radio operators' claims could not be confirmed because Serb forces are barring U.N. military observers from the enclave, despite promises by the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, that they would be admitted.