Yugoslavia's two largest ethnic groups, the Serbs and Croats, have pulled back from their latest confrontation but not from their fierce battle for the country's future.
About 100 Croatian police dispatched to Pakrac two days ago to put down a rebellion among Serbs withdrew late Sunday in compliance with a midnight deadline from the federal presidency.Units of the federal army sent in response to the Croatian crackdown, however, remained in the town. The army, which is dominated by Serbian officers, was ordered into the republic Saturday by Borisav Jovic, leader of the collective eight-man presidency and a Serb.
Serb police reservists on Feb. 22 seized municipal buildings in Pakrac, 60 miles southeast of Croatia's capital Zagreb, saying they wanted independence within the republic. Croatian police stormed the buildings on Saturday.
Shots were exchanged and tear gas was fired to disperse crowds and up to five Croatian police officers were reported wounded in the clashes. But police said there were no civilian casualties.
The incident was the latest in the escalating feud between the 9.8 million Serbs and approximately 5 million Croats to shape the future of Yugoslavia, a country of 25 million.