Key dates and events in the Bosnia war


Timeline: War in Bosnia

BIRN team

For the first time after the Second World War, multy-party elections are held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Polls are won by the ethnic-based parties. The mainly Bosniak Stranka Demokratske Akcije, SDA, wins 86 seats in the assembly. The Srpska Demokratka Stranka, SDS, wins 72 and the Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica, HDZ, wins 44. Parties agree to share power along ethnic lines, so that the president of the presidency is a Bosniak, the president of parliament a Serb and the prime minister a Croat.

June 1991:
Slovenia and Croatia declare independence. The nexy day, the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, engages in armed conflict in Slovenia. War spreads to Croatia.

Autumn 1991:
On September 25, UN Security Council passes resolution 713 imposing an arms embargo on all of former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina organizes referendum on independence. The JNA begins to withdraw from Croatia toward Bosnia. Working with JNA, the SDS in Bosnia starts arming Bosnian Serb population.

October 1991:
Bosnian Serb Assembly, dominated by SDS, is founded and proclaimed supreme legislative organ of the Serbs in Bosnia.

October 13, 1991:
SDS leader Radovan Karadzic says: “In just a couple of days, Sarajevo will be gone and there will be 500,000 dead’ in one month the Muslims will be annihilated in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

November 1991:
Bosnian Serb assembly endorses proclamation of “Serbian autonomous districts” in Bosnia

January 1992:
Bosnian Serb assembly proclaims Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, later called Republika Srpska

February 1992:
Bosnian Serb assembly urges Serbs to boycott independence referendum on February 29 and March 1, 1992. Turnout is 67 per cent of whom 99.43 per cent favour independence.

Independence declared on March 5, 1992. Bosnian Serb political leadership starts roadblocks in protest.

Constitution of Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina declares in Article 2 that its territory consists of “Serbian autonomous regions, municipalities and other Serbian ethnic entities, including the regions in which genocide was committed against the Serb population in World War Two.”

March 1992:
Serbian forces attack parts of northern Bosnia.

April 1992:
Bosnia and Herzegovina internationally recognized as independent state. The 44-month siege of Sarajevo starts. Bridges connecting Bosnia to Croatia at Brcko and Bosanski Samac are destroyed.

May 1992:
Radovan Karadzic outlines “six strategic objectives” of Serbs in Bosnia: establishing state borders separating the Serbian people from the other ethnic communities: establishing corridor between Semberija and Krajina: establishing corridor to the Drina River valley: establishing border on Una and Neretva rivers: dividing Sarajevo into Serbian and Muslim parts: ensuring access to sea for Republika Srpska. Bosnian Serb assembly votes to create Army of Republika Srpska, VRS, and appoints Ratko Mladic commander.

Conflict starts in eastern and northern Bosnia, in Foca, Gorazde, Prijedor, Bijeljina, Visegrad and elsewhere.

JNA stages partial withdrawal from Bosnia.  Massacre occurs in Sarajevo among people waiting for bread line.

Summer 1992:
International media reports on “ethnic cleansing”, death camps, mass rapes. In June, government in Sarajevo declares state of war and begins general mobilization. Sarajevo airlift begins. Bosnian Serbs seize 70 per cent of territory. Hundreds of thousands forced from their homes and large portions of Bosnia “cleansed” of all non-Serbs.

May – August, 1992:
Camps in north-west Prijedor area established by Serb authorities where more then 7,000 non-Serbs are detained, tortured or killed.  The biggest, at Omarska, is later classified by Human Rights Watch as a concentration camp.

January 1993:
Cyrus Vance of US and David Owen of UK put forward peace plan. Under pressure from Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic signs plan, but after Bosnian Serb assembly votes against, he withdraws assent.

February 1993:
UN votes to set up war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia to try “persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991”.

March 1993:
Fighting erupts between Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in western and central Bosnia.

July 1993:
Owen-Stoltenberg peace plan offered. Bosniak leader Alija Iyetbegovic turns it down in August.

September 1993:
Fighting begins in Bihac region, in northwest Bosnia, between Bosnian government forces and break-away Bosniaks loyal to Fikret Abdic, leader of self-proclaimed Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia. He is sentenced in 2005 to 15 years’ imprisonment in Croatia. Conflict lasts until August 1995.

February 1994:
Bosnia Serb shelling of Sarajevo marketplace kills 67. NATO rules that heavy weapons must be removed from 20-mile exclusion zone around Sarajevo or turned over to UN control. NATO downs four Serbian planes in Bosnian no-fly zone.

March 1994:
US-mediated peace treaty between Bosniaks and Croats signed in Washington.

April 1994:
NATO bombs Serb positions as Serb forces advances on UN proclaimed “safe haven” of Gorazde, eastern Bosnia.

May 1995:
Shelling at Tuzla kills 70 and wounds more than 150.

July 1995:
Serbs overrun UN “safe haven” of Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, killing more than 7,500 men and boys in worst single atrocity to take place in Europe since end of Second World War.

August 1995:
Serb shelling of market hall in Sarajevo kills 43 and wounds many.
Croatia overruns Croat Serb republic and takes Knin. Joint Croat-Bosniak offensive pushes Serbs out of much territory in western Bosnia. Corridor opened up to Bihac. Belgrade orders Bosnian Serbs to agree to end the war.

November/December 1995:
Dayton peace accord marks end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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