U.N. alleges Croats murdered 70 civilians


ZAGREB, Croatia -- Croatian army troops gunned down at least 70 Serbian civilians and burned every building in 11 villages in an organized and brutal application of "scorched earth" tactics, the United Nations charged yesterday.

In a separate report alleging human rights abuses by Croats, a U.N. refugee official said nationalist gunmen rounded up 530 Muslims from the divided city of Mostar and expelled them across a dangerous no-man's land riddled with mines and corpses.

The latest documented atrocities testified to the anarchy spreading across the Balkans as well as to the U.N. mission's inability to protect civilians from such barbarity.

The report by the U.N. Protection Force on the killing of Serbs in the Medak region was the most damning to date on scores of massacres since the peacekeepers arrived 17 months ago.

It suggested that the Zagreb leadership condoned the civilian slaughter, which investigators described as too "systematic, thorough and well planned" to have been the work of renegades.

Croatian soldiers poisoned wells, looted houses, slaughtered livestock and razed more than 500 buildings, according to the report.

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