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By David Binder, New York Times journalist
Excerpts from 'Foreign Policy' #97, Winter 1994-95, pp.77-78


"The international responses to the Markale massacre developed along a political fault line. Within hours of the explosion, the Clinton administration, while acknowledging there was no definitive culprit, pointed the finger of blame for the massacre at the Serbs. Amplifying the message were television broadcasters - especially on CNN - and newspaper editorial writers who flatly charged that the Bosnian Serbs had perpetratedthe massacre.


The suspicion of Muslim perpetrators was underscored in some minds by previous UNPROFOR reports, which I have seen, of incidents in which Muslim forces fired deliberately at Muslim civilians - with the aim of creating incidents that could be blamed on the Serbs. Yet other UNPROFOR reports in 1992 and 1993, which I have also seen, list incidents in which Muslim forces sought to provoke Serb reactions (which usually bocame overreactions) by firing directly at Serb positions during putative ceasefires. An indicator of the thinking in some U.N. quarters was the final massage of the departing head of UNPROFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lieutenant General Francis Briquemont, on January 9, 1994: 'In Sarajevo, the (Muslim-led) BiH army provoke the BSA (Serbs) on a daily basis. This is very easy for us to notice as the BiH mortars are generally located near UNPROFOR units.'


According to the final UNPROFOR report of its Markale massacre investigations, a 120 mm mortar shell fell between 12:10p.m. and 12:15 p.m. into the market detonating upon hitting the asphalt. Such shells weigh about 26 pounds and carry 5 pounds of high explosives. The market area, 100 feet by 164 feet, is faced by seven to eight-story buildings on the north and east sides. Mortar bombs tend to spray shrapnel in a characteristic splash pattern in the direction of the launch. By establishing the outermost "wings" of a shrapnel splash, a baseline can be drawn. When that line is bisected by a perpendicular line drawn through the center of the impact, the direction of the launch can be determined. Additionally, if the hole made by the shell and the alignment of the tail fin are properly measured, the angle of descent can be determined.

A French UNPROFOR lieutenant accompanied by a warrant officer arrived five minutes after the detonation and stood watch at the marketplace until officers specialized in artillery - a French lieutenant and a sergeant major- arrived about 2. p.m. to analyze the crater. The specialists took acompass sighting based on "the shrapnel scrape pattern" to measure the direction of the projectile. They reported the mortar shell bearing to be "0620 mils," or a northerly direction. They also removed the shell's tailfin. At 3 p.m. a French captain, also assigned to examine the site, marked lines formed by the characteristic "wings" of the mortar fragment splash and reckoned the bearing to be 0800-1,000 mils, a far more easterly direction. With that direction in mind, he reckoned the descent angle as sharp - 1,400 mils, or about 79 degrees - to carry the shell over an adjacent 60-foot-tall building. Elis estimate would most likely have placed the weapon's launch site behind Muslim lines. four hours after the explosion, a Canadian major made a third, independent investigation and came to the conclusion paralleling that of the initial analysis of the French lieutenant, but differing considerably from the second analysis, by the French captain. The Canadian reported that the bearing was from the north-northeast and has a shallower angle of descent,closer to 70 degrees." 

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