- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2018

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - Bosnian police detained a former Bosnian army commander and 12 other people Friday on suspicion of war crimes against Serb and Bosnian civilians and prisoners during the country’s deadly 1992-95 war.

Atif Dudakovic and other commanders and members of the wartime Bosnian Army’s 5th Corps were detained in early morning raids in several towns, the Bosnian prosecutor’s office said. They are suspected of atrocities against mainly hundreds of Serbs in northwestern Bosnia, the statement said.

It added the case against the group is based on hundreds of testimonies, video footage and other evidence.

Initially, prosecutors said Dudakovic and 11 others were detained, but police apprehended one more suspect later Friday.

Dudakovic’s arrest is sensitive for Bosnia, because he was in charge of the northwestern Bihac area that was under Serb siege during most of the war that killed around 100,000 people and left millions homeless.

The 64-year-old former general became the Bosnian army commander after the war and remains highly respected and popular.

“We are shocked,” said Dzevad Malkoc, the official who deals with war veterans in the Bihac area. “This is a blow to the state, to all patriots who defended this state.”

Reactions to Dudakovic’s arrest reflected Bosnia’s persisting ethnic divisions, with Muslim citizens criticizing the move and Serbs saying it is welcome, although late.

The Muslim head of the country’s three-member Bosnian Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, warned against attempts to create “a false ethnic balance” in prosecuting war crimes. He said the arrests Friday were an “unnecessary humiliation” because the suspects have been cooperating with the investigation.

Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik said the “relatives of the victims have been waiting for justice for 20 years.”

The war started when Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia, triggering a rebellion by Bosnia’s Serbs, who took control of more than half of the country seeking to merge with neighboring Serbia.

A peace agreement for Bosnia was signed in 1995, but tensions between the country’s Muslims, Serbs and Croats still persist. Today’s Bosnia is comprised of a Serb entity and a Muslim-Croat one.

In the Serb town of Banja Luka, Milorad Kojic, who heads a group investigating wartime crimes against Serbs, said they have submitted to the Bosnian prosecutors more than 8,000 pages of evidence against Dudakovic and others, including allegedly incriminating video footage.

The case involves 256 victims between the ages of nine and 99, Kojic said.

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