Route Pacman Bosnia

As thousands of Croat civilians fled the Travnik area, one group had a chance encounter with a convoy en route to the relief of Muslims in the central Bosnia area.43 With emotions in a high state of agitation, the tired, hungry, and desperate Croat refugees—primarily women and children— blocked the convoy's route in several places on June 10 and 11 and spontaneously looted trucks, killing several of the drivers in the process while the UNPROFOR troops stood by, unwilling to fire into the mass of pitiful refugees.44 The first encounter occurred at about 7 p.m. on June 10, just north of Novi Travnik, when forty to fifty Croat women blocked the road. Shortly thereafter, the BRITBAT received reports that HVO soldiers were dragging drivers from the trucks, shooting them, and then driving the vehicles away. Throughout the night of June 10-11, BRITBAT armored vehicles provided security for the convoy, which began to move again early the next morning. As the convoy passed Novi Bila at about 7:45 a.m. on June 11, it was fired upon, presumably by HVO troops. The UNPROFOR escort returned fire, killing several HVO soldiers.45 At about 9:00 a.m., the forward element of the convoy was halted again just short of the Dubravica intersection by a "human barricade of women and children." Ambassador Thebault, UNPROFOR Bosnia-Herzegovina Command Chief of Staff Brigadier Guy de Vere Wingfield Hayes, and senior HVO officers and political figures finally resolved the impasse.46 Many of the convoy vehicles disappeared without a trace, the goods probably unloaded and the tractors and trailers hidden or disguised, most never to be seen again.47

The hijacking of the Convoy of Joy was presented in the Western media at the time as a deliberate military action by the HVO in revenge for the Travnik defeat.48 Nonetheless, the pillaging of the convoy appears to have resulted from a chance encounter and was spontaneous—a product of the frustration and anger of the displaced Croat civilians rather than a planned HVO military operation.49

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