YUGOSLAV air force jets this week bombed targets within miles of the Marian sanctuary of Medjugorje, sending pilgrims scurrying for cover in church basements and raising fears that the mountain pilgrimage village could fall victim to the latest outbreak of the region's civil war.
The attacks came as violence worsened in Bosnia-lierzogovina, the most ethnically mixed republic of the disintegrating Yugoslav federation, and battle lines were drawn amid skirmishes between rival Serbian, Moslem and Croat communities in the ancient city of Mostar, the nearest major town to Medjugorje.
Air force planes bombed armaments factories in the towns of Citluk and Siroki Brijeg, both of which are next to Medjugorje itself. Reports from the area indicated that several people were killed in the attacks.
An American organisation which co-ordinates pilgrimages to Medjugorje. the site of alleged apparitions of Our Lady since 1981, reported that the Catholic cathedral in Mostar was hit by artillery fire, although the extent of the damage was unclear.
Pastors working in Medjugorje and some of the visionaries themselves issued an impassioned appeal for help from the outside world, saying that the village was ••iii serious danger".
Medjugorje has been virtually bereft of pilgrims since Yugoslavia's civil war began last year.