The seige of Dubrovnik

more than a year ago
June 26 1991 Croatia declares its independence from Yugoslavia.

August 1991 A low-intensity conflict between Croats and Serbs quickly escalates into all-out war. Dubrovnik, with its largely Croatian population and minor strategic importance, is only lightly defended.  

October 1 1991 Serbian military planners decide that an attack on Dubrovnik will weaken Croatian morale. The JNA (Yugoslav Peoples’ Army), supported by volunteers from Serbia, Eastern Herzegovina and Montenegro, begin their assault.

October 5 1991 The JNA captures the resort of Slano north of Dubrovnik, cutting the city off from the rest of Croatia. Over 50,000 civilians and refugees are trapped inside the city.

October 22 1991 The holiday resorts of Cavtat, Mlini and Kupari are overrun by the JNA.

October 23 1991 Dubrovnik’s Old Town suffers its first major artillery bombardment.

October 25 1991 The JNA and its allies take the high ground overlooking the city. Defenders fall back on Fort Imperial, the Napoleonic-era strongpoint at the summit of Mt Srd.

December 6 1991 Dubrovnik is subjected to the siege’s most intensive day of shelling. A major enemy assault on Fort Imperial is thrown back following stiff resistance.

January 1992 A UN-sponsored cease-fire comes into effect.

July 1992 A month-long operation led by Croatian General Janko Bobetko wins back control of the coastal highway, ending the land blockade of the city.

October 20 1992 Croatian troops liberate Cavtat. 

August 1995 Hostilities come to an end after Croatian victories in central Croatia. 

The aftermath
According to current Croatian statistics, the attack on Dubrovnik cost the lives of 193 defenders and just over 100 civilians. In the territories occupied by enemy forces, hotels and private houses were systematically ransacked. In Dubrovnik’s Old Town, a total of 824 buildings (68% of the total) had taken a hit of one kind or another. Renovation and repair was a long and painstaking business, as the shell-scarred masonry and roof tiles of the Old Town could only be replaced with carefully-sourced equivalents.


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