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Q & A

Questions and answers about the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina:

Q: Who is fighting?

A: Bosnian Serbs, who made up about a third of Bosnia's prewar population of 4.3-million, rebelled after the Muslim-Croat majority voted for independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. Serbs want their own state within Bosnia with links to Serbia, the largest of two remaining republics in Yugoslavia proper.

Originally allied against the Serbs, Muslims and Croats also have been fighting each other for territory in central Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Q: How many people have been killed?

A: Bosnia's Muslim-led government estimates at least 200,000 people have been killed or are missing in the 23-month war. More than 2-million people in Bosnia have been made homeless.

Q: Who controls what?

A: Bosnian Serbs have captured about 70 percent of Bosnian territory. Bosnia's Muslim-led government controls Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, which is under siege. It also controls an area of central Bosnia around the towns of Tuzla and Zenica, a pocket of territory around Bihac in the northwest, and a few small enclaves in eastern Bosnia. Bosnian Croats control parts of central and southwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina and are contesting with Muslims for control of the city of Mostar.

Q: What is Serbia's role in the war?

A: Serbia and tiny Montenegro, the only republics left in Yugoslavia, are accused of inciting nationalist Serbs to rebel in both Croatia and Bosnia when those republics declared independence from the Yugoslav federation. Serbia, especially, is accused of supplying fellow Bosnian Serbs with fuel and weaponry. Croatia recently has been accused of sending troops and supplies to the Bosnian Croatians.

Q: How many U.N. peacekeeping troops are in former Yugoslavia?

A: About 30,000 including 12,000 in Bosnia. France and Britain have the largest contingents.

Q: Why do the warring factions hate one another?

A: Bosnia-Herzegovina was former Yugoslavia's most ethnically diverse state, whose peoples lived mostly in harmony. But the collapse of Communist rule gave rise to pent-up nationalism. Tensions between Croats and Serbs are fanned by memories of the World War II slaughter of Serbs by a Nazi puppet regime in Croatia. Thousands of Croats also were killed by Serbs, and Muslims fought both Serbs and Croats. There are also religious divisions. Many of the Serbs, who are Eastern Orthodox Christians, and the Catholic Croatians distrust the Muslims.

Q: What is "ethnic cleansing"?

A: It is the forcing of people from territory based on their ethnicity to create "ethnically pure" districts. It commonly involves rape, murder and intimidation. All sides have been involved in ethnic cleansing, but Serbs are blamed for the most widespread use of the tactic against Muslims. Reports of concentration camps and atrocities have stirred international outrage against the Serbs.

Q: Where do Bosnia's Muslims come from?

A: Most actually are ethnic Slavs whose ancestors converted to Islam after Ottoman Turks occupied the area in the 15th century. Many of Bosnia's Slavic Muslims typically were not devout, although Islamic ritual was observed and most Bosnian towns have mosques.

Q: What is the international community doing?

A: Efforts have centered on trying to get humanitarian aid to the war's victims and pressuring Serbs to agree to a political settlement. Peace negotiations between the three sides have been going on in Geneva. Sarajevo has been supplied by a U.N. airlift, and U.N. land convoys travel regularly to refugee areas when possible. The United Nations has imposed a tough trade embargo on Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. The U.N. established a no-fly zone, which is being enforced by NATO jets, over Bosnia in 1992. The U.N. also has imposed an arms embargo on the entire region. European negotiators, who originally wanted to maintain the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina, now accept that it must be divided along ethnic lines.

Who would get what?

The most recent European Union and United Nations plan would grant Muslims 33 percent of the territory, Serbs just over 50 percent and Croats the rest. Muslims, however, want more access to the Adriatic Sea and corridors to their eastern enclaves. Last week, Washington suggested a federation between the Muslim and Croatian regions, at least as a temporary measure, to provide greater security for the Muslims.

Q: Exactly where is Bosnia and how big is it?

A: Bosnia-Herzegovina is in what was central Yugoslavia near the Balkan peninsula. It is a largely mountainous state of 20,625 square miles, a little smaller than West Virginia.

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