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Dozens of Lazarevo residents blocked the house where Mladic was arrested in a show of support for the fugitive, preventing photographers from taking pictures. Police stood by without intervening.

Serbian police said they had banned all gatherings and raised security levels throughout the country in case of violent nationalist reaction to the arrest.

The nationalist Serbian Radical Party said Mladic was a “hero” and described his seizure as “one of the hardest moments in Serbian history.”

The extreme-right group 1389 said the arrest was “a treason” and called on citizens to pour into the streets and protest.

Justice officials in The Hague said it would take at least a week before Mladic was handed over.

Regular reports on Serbia’s compliance with the chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor are crucial for its efforts to become an EU member candidate. The prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, had long complained that authorities were not doing enough to capture Mladic and other war-crimes fugitives.

On Thursday, Brammertz called justice for the victims of Mladic’s alleged crimes in Bosnia “long overdue.”

In Bosnia, the arrest was welcomed by the head of a group of victims’ family members formed to keep the pressure on war crimes investigators. But, added Munira Subasic, “I’m sorry for all the victims who are dead and cannot see this day.”

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the arrest “finally offers a chance for justice to be done.” The White House said Mladic’s capture shows that justice eventually will come to those who perpetrate crimes against humanity.

In a message from his U.N. cell, Karadzic said he was sorry Mladic has been arrested and wants to work with him “to bring out the truth” about the Bosnian war.

Karadzic’s American lawyer Peter Robinson called The Associated Press to relay the message shortly after visiting Karadzic in the Hague detention unit that he will soon share with Mladic.

Croatian media, which first broke the story, said police there got confirmation from their Serbian colleagues that DNA analysis confirmed Mladic’s identity.

Mladic was born on March 12, 1942, in the southeastern Bosnian village of Bozinovci. He was two when his father, a World War II guerrilla fighter, was killed, allegedly by Croat pro-Nazi forces. He graduated from Belgrade’s prestigious military academy and joined the Yugoslav Communist Party in 1965.

Embarking on an army career when the former Yugoslavia was still a six-state federation, Mladic rose steadily through the ranks, making general before the country’s breakup in 1991.

When Yugoslavia began unraveling in war, Mladic was in Croatia leading Yugoslav troops in the Serb controlled enclave of Knin. He is believed to have played a crucial role in the army bombardment of the coastal city of Zadar.

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