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U.N. pleads for troops for Bosnia

The civilian and military heads of the U.N. peacekeeping mission for the Balkans appealed Thursday for a near doubling of the troops deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, warning that a precarious cease-fire in Sarajevo could collapse without swift reinforcement.

As Sarajevo endured scattered mortar and machine-gun fire in violation of a three-week-old U.N.-brokered truce, Yasushi Akashi, the U.N. Protection Force chief, called on the United States and other NATO countries to send 10,650 troops, 500 civilian police and 150 military observers to bolster the 12,000 U.N. troops already in Bosnia.

"This window of opportunity which has opened in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including Sarajevo, after so many months of efforts and anxiety, might close in the absence of additional resources," Akashi warned.

Gen. Jean Cot, the French military commander of the 29,000-strong U.N. Protection Force, targeted the United States in his appeal for troops that could be deployed quickly.

"What I need is to have troops available immediately, and those nations which are in a position to send troops immediately can be counted on the fingers of one hand," Cot said, apparently referring to the United States, Britain and France.

The United States has repeatedly stated it will not send ground troops to Bosnia unless there is a peace agreement endorsed by all sides. Cot criticized the American position as "not very courageous."