Terror Fears Leave Small Bosnian Town Subdued

(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) The recent terrorist attack in Zvornik has had a ripple effect all across Bosnia, reopening wounds and creating unease far from the town where the actuall shooting took place.

On Wednesday evening, a young Bosnian Serb woman timidly walked into the Kozara cinema, the only cinema in the town of Prijedor in the north-west of Bosnia's Serb dominated entity, Republika Srpska.

"Are you open?" she asked the clerk. "I wondered whether I would find anyone here. I didn't dare leave the home for two days, not even to put my kid into kindergarten."

The woman said she and her son had come to see a movie in the hope that it would brighten up their day and make her at least temporarily forget her security concerns.

She did not have to explain that her concerns, shared by thousands of other Bosnians, were related to the terrorist attack on Monday, when a young Bosniak (Muslim) attacked a police station in the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik.

Both the attacker and one policeman were killed, while two policemen were wounded in what proved to be one of the worst terrorist attacks in Bosnia in recent years.

The attack reopened unhealed wounds of ethnic violence across the country and raised security concerns among Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs alike.

The situation appeared especially tense in Republika Srpska, where an increased presence of police € carrying long-barrelled weapons € was evident in every village and town and on all main roads.

Tensions were visible in Prijedor, which bears some resemblance to Zvornik. Both towns were relatively ethnically mixed before the war and both became infamous for the ethnic cleansing of their non-Serb populations.

Some Bosniaks and Croats returned to Prijedor after the war. Uneasy co-existence in the small community € where almost everyone knows who did what to whom during the war € easily evolves into tensions on occasions like the one after the Zvornik incident.

Despite the approach of the Labour Day holiday, the streets of Prijedor appeared oddly half-empty on Thursday. The day after the attack, the central police station in Prijedor was surrounded by dozens of policemen with automatic rifles and bulletproof vests, which seemed only to add to the overall feeling of insecurity among the residents.

On Thursday, only two policemen remained standing outside, but still in full battle gear, showing that security levels remain elevated.

"This reminds me of the war times," murmured a middle-aged Serb returning from her lunch to her workplace in the local administration office right across the police station.

"I could not sleep at all night last night," she started saying but then abruptly fell silent as she saw three Bosniak women, her neighbours, approaching.

Tensions run even higher in Prijedor's virtual community, especially on social networks that are a regular meeting space for non-Serbs who fled from Prijedor during the war.

"Je suis Nerdim Ibric," ("I am Nerdim Ibricic") wrote one Bosniak from Prijedor on social networks, referring to the attacker on the police station in Zvornik.

Unlike the bravado displayed by Bosniaks from Prijedor now living aboard, Bosniaks who have remained in the town since the war, or returned there, remained quiet and avoided opening the topic.

"It is easy to be a great Bosniak nationalist in Sweden, United States or Germany. Ladies and the gentlemen, please, return to your homes, live here, and then I will ask you whether you would still write such things," a young Bosniak man from Prijedor told this journalist.

"Hate speech from our people all over the world doesn't help us. On the contrary, it only can worsen the situation," he added.

An elderly Serb said he was worried about his brother who was living in Zvornik.

"I am worried about him. I am afraid of drunken fools, both 'ours' and 'theirs'," he admitted.

Another elderly Serb, who on Friday was supposed to travel to Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, which is populated mostly by Bosniaks, said that because of security situation he had decided to change the route and use a longer road through Serb-dominated areas rather than a shorter one that runs through Bosniak and Croat-populated regions.

Chatting with a group of her neighbours, a Serb woman in her eighties showed impressive knowledge of political positions and statements given by Republika Srpska leaders over the past few days. She also said she felt relieved after Serbian officials said they would assist Republika Srpska in maintaining security.

"We don't have our own intelligence. It is a circus," chipped in her neighbour, also a Serb.

Contrary to the radical and harsh statements that the RS President, Milorad Dodik, and other RS officials made immediately after the incident, the local authorities in Prijedor, like in many other places, appeared much more careful and subdued.

The mayor of Prijedor, Marko Pavic, who is also the leader of the Democratic People's Union, DNS refused to comment much on the case. "This is an issue is about institutions, not about politics," he told Balkan Insight.

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