A Croat rescue story

06 December 1996

Hans Koschnick, a 67-year-old EU official acting as negotiator in the former Yugoslavia, might not be alive but for his BMW armoured limousine. Earlier this year, the German politician's blue BMW 750iL was surrounded by more than 1,000 Croat nationalists in war ravaged Mostar, who had responded to inflammatory radio slogans informing them of Koschnick's territorial plans for the city.

The angry crowd, shouting 'hang him' and 'shoot him', beat the car's windows with sticks and trampled on the roof and bonnet, before trying to tip the car over. 'They were out to lynch me,' said Koschnick. 'I was staring death in the face. There was absolutely no possibility of getting away: if my driver had tried to move off, people would have been hurt.'

But the security limousine stood up to the attacks. 'After a while we began to feel safe,' Koschnick said. 'We realised they couldn't turn the car over or get inside it, so we decided the most important thing was to stay calm and show no emotion, just keep our cool.' After 50 long minutes, the nightmare was over as police protection arrived to escort Koschnick and his bodyguards to safety. Later, seven bullet impact marks were found on the windows of the severely damaged car in line with the heads of the occupants.

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