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Jewish Center and Cemetery Bombed in Strife-torn Capital of Croatia

Yugoslavia’s small Jewish community was in a state of high tension and under tight security after bombs exploded early Monday morning at the entrance to the Jewish community center and at the Jewish cemetery in Zagreb, capital of the Croatian republic, where strife has been rampant in recent weeks.

There were no casualties but considerable damage, according to Jewish community sources.

Shortly after the bombings, the tiny Jewish community in the Adriatic coast city of Dubrovnik received an anonymous telephone warning that “you will be next.”

The Jewish community leadership in Zagreb met in emergency session immediately, as did Yugoslavia’s Federation of Jewish Communities, based in Belgrade, which is in neighboring Serbia.

The Jewish Historical Museum in Belgrade, the national capital, was closed to the public Monday, and precautions were taken at Jewish institutions elsewhere as word of the incident spread.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia sent a message from Belgrade to the World Jewish Congress in New York and to Jewish organizations in London and Paris.

It reported that “an explosive device placed behind the locked door of the Jewish community building in Zagreb, Croatia, went off shortly after 4 a.m.” local time.

The message, signed by Aleksandar Mosic, deputy president, and Luci Petrovic, secretary, said, “There are no casualties but heavy material damage.”

According to reports reaching here, the blast at the Zagreb community center, an imposing building in the heart of the city, smashed windows and damaged cars parked nearby. But the priceless library housed inside was unscathed.

‘KNEW SOMETHING LIKE THIS WOULD HAPPEN’

Damage at the Jewish cemetery, which occupies a section of the city’s sprawling municipal cemetery, was not immediately specified.

The attack sent shudders through Yugoslavia’s small Jewish community and put Jewish institutions in a state of alert. “So it begins,” Jewish scholar Eugen Werber said in a telephone call from Belgrade.

“I am not a prophet, but I knew something like this would happen,” Werber said, referring apparently to the troubled times in Yugoslavia, marked by bloody fighting between Croats and Serbs.

The bombing brought strong reactions from Jewish leaders abroad.

In New York, Israel Singer, secretary-general of the WJC, sent a message to Zagreb, expressing shock and horror. “We are with you in your time of trial and are at your disposal if there is anything you feel we can do,” he told the community leadership.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in New York, called on Croatia’s political and religious leaders to condemn the outrage and “act to prevent such tragedies in the future.”

The Croatian government implied at a Zagreb news conference after the bombings that Serbs were responsible.

“That is ridiculous,” said a Serbian Jew.

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