Besieged

The Bosnian Muslims had been under siege for almost three months, trapped on the east side of Mostar between the Croats and the Serbs. Sally Becker was granted permission to evacuate all the injured children and their families from the besieged hospital. On 26th August 1993, she borrowed an ambulance and set off across the front line.

ABC News Aug 27 1993

 

Excerpt from Sally's book Sunflowers and Snipers, published by the History Press

 

This was as far as the police escort would go and I stared anxiously across the disused airfield that crossed No Man's

Land. One of the policemen scrawled the directions on a scrap of paper but he could not guarantee its accuracy; he had not been beyond this point since hostilities began. I carried spare clothing and a torch in case we should become trapped like the UN convoy that had entered the area the previous night.

 

The rear of the vehicle was filled with antibiotics, dressings and some medical equipment. We had also bought coffee, cigarettes and cheese for the hospital staff – items that were impossible to obtain on the besieged side of the city. I was told that the ceasefire would last until 1pm the following day. There remained, however, the question of snipers positioned within a four-mile radius around the city and the thought that some of these maverick marksmen might not have heard of the arrangement did little for my confidence.

I drove as fast as I could across the deserted runway. It was late afternoon and the air was still hot and humid, so I slid back the door. Our vehicle was the only thing moving for miles and I knew that we were within sight of both sides. I cringed at the thought of how many eyes might be watching us but hoped that the ambulance would not be targeted.

The area was eerily quiet apart from the distant thump of shells and the road was empty except for the mines, whose deadly spikes protruded from the tarmac. Steering carefully around them, I followed the directions drawn on the crude map and drove towards the first checkpoint, where three soldiers stood watching us approach. They were dressed in shabby uniforms displaying the insignia of the Bosnian army and wore sneakers instead of boots; each carried an AK-47 rifle. 

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