updated 4/1/2008 12:51:30 PM ET 2008-04-01T16:51:30

Hundreds of police officers and helicopters combed hills and abandoned mines in northern Croatia for a retired army general who was charged Tuesday with a grisly quadruple killing in his village.

Special police also checked cars and guarded schools and nurseries as frightened parents demanded protection from Ivan Korade, who was believed to be armed and hiding in the area since last week's killings, said police chief Marijan Benko.

Police charged Korade with murdering a woman, her 16-year-old grandson and two men — including a former aide to the general — on the night of March 27 in the northern village of Velika Veternicka. Local media have said all the victims were killed with the same gun, and that some were shot in the eyes and stabbed with a knife.

Korade, 44, has been widely praised for his role in Croatia's 1991-1995 war with rebel Serbs, during which he lost an arm.

In 2001, he was convicted of violent behavior and maltreatment of a man in 1995, and received a suspended eight-month sentence. Critics claim Korade's violent temper has been tacitly tolerated by authorities because he is considered by some to be a war hero.

To be tried in the quadruple killings, the former general would have to be formally indicted by prosecutors.

The village of Velika Veternicka, 30 miles north of Zagreb, is dotted with weekend vacation homes, abandoned mines and underground tunnels that Korade, a longtime resident, is believed to know well.

Benko said police assume that he did not manage to flee the country, but they have not ruled out issuing an international arrest warrant at some point.

Later this week, President Bush will visit Croatia, and special police and troops will be needed for his security in Zagreb.

Both Benko and Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic said the search for Korade would not affect Bush's protection. The U.S. ambassador to Croatia, Robert Bradke, said he had "full confidence in Croatian security" during the president's visit.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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