On this day in 1991, four Croatian police officers were brutally killed while driving in their Zastava 101 police car near the village of Žuta Lokva. Drago Toljan, Zdravko Vuković, Mile Vranić and Vinko Krznarić lost their lives while their fellow officer Darko Murat who was severely wounded managed to escape by fleeing towards Senj.
Officers from the Brinje Police Station monitored and regulated traffic at the intersection of the main roads for Brinje-Otočac-Senj. After a short stop at there, the duty officer at the Brinje Police Station called them at 9:40 AM and requested that they return. Immediately after all five officers got into their official police vehicle, they took on fierce gunfire consisting of long automatic weapons and hand-held rocket launchers from Serbian terrorists concealed in the nearby bushes.
Zdravko Vuković, Vinko Krznarić and Mile Vranić were killed instantly while Drago Toljan and Darko Murat were seriously injured. Murat tried to return fire but after getting off a few shots his rifle failed. While Murat managed to escape after he ran across the road, the wounded Toljan died beside the vehicle. At the Rijeka hospital, sole survivor Darko Murat recalled the terrifying ambush to Novi List newspaper journalist Branko Skorić:
I don’t know exactly what time it was, maybe 9:45 AM. I was at a permanent checkpoint at the intersection near Žuta Lokva along with four of my colleagues from the Brinje Police Station. The traffic from Josipdol to Senj and Otočac runs in this direction and there had been no problems there thus far. We waited for our shift. Suddenly hell began. The last thing I remember were the screams of my colleagues and the deafening explosion of weapons.
According to evidence at the scene, the terrorists brutally shot at the Brinje Police patrol from behind. They opened fire with automatic weapons from about twenty metres and traces of two detonated mines were found. The murder of the Croatian police officers was a precursor to the events that followed in the area. In the next two days, the town of Otočac and the nearby Gacka Valley were covered with approximately 1000 mines.
Graduated with a Master’s Degree in History from the University of Zagreb. He has worked at the Croatian History Museum and as a researcher for the popular TV Calendar program for Croatian Radio and Television. He has authored several books and documentaries about Croatia’s Homeland War and is the creator/producer of the immensely popular “It Happened on this Day – Homeland War” Facebook page as well as the online portal Domovinskirat.hr. Borna also is the host and editor of the daily segment “Patriotic Minutes” on Croatian Catholic Radio. He created CroHis to promote the values of the Homeland War and ensure that the sacrifices of those who defended Croatia’s independence would not be forgotten.