The Occupation of Slunj

After occupying Saborsko on 12 November 1991, the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) and rebel Serbs turned their attention to the town of Slunj, which was completely cut-off from Croatian government control. Four days later on 16 November, enemy forces launched a multi-directional attack on Slunj.

Following shelling from heavy artillery, infantry and armoured forces penetrated the town via the military range as well as from Slušnica and Popovac. The approximately 800 very poorly armed defenders were powerless before the tanks. After the tanks reached the center of Slunj, defense lines were severed and Croatian commanders decided to break through to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bihać in thick fog and rain while some attempted to reach Ogulin across the military range. Upon entering the city, looting and destruction began as described by Jure Jurašin-Strucaki’s testimony to the Karlovac Police Department in which he described Slunj immediately after its occupation by the enemy:

I passed through Slunj at approximately 4:00 PM on 17 November. It looked awful. You could not walk through the center due to the rubble, burning houses, trampled cars, fallen trees and other ruins. It was indescribable. You had to experience it to believe it. Houses were still ablaze around the tanks. Dogs and cats flying across the road, the crackling of gunfire, the spreading stench… only chimneys stuck out from the roofs. The attackers knew which houses were Croatian and they set them on fire.

Many Croats who did not flee in advance of the advancing enemy forces were harassed, looted, imprisoned and killed shortly after the occupation. Of the 1,671 Croats who lived in Slunj in 1991, only 14 of them remained in the town by May of 1994. The “Way of the Cross” for the majority of the refugees of the Slunj region included four years of exile in Karlovac where most of them were located.

After the occupation of Slunj, Croatian defenders established a new line of defense along the Generalski Stol – Kamenica – Cerovac axis. The occupation of the Slunj region lasted until August 1995 when the occupiers were forced to flee during Operation “STORM” which liberated much of the territory previously under enemy control.

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