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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Disarmament of the KLA?

British government sources said on Wednesday that NATO and the Kosovo Liberation Army have agreed an outline plan for disarming KLA fighters. Sources added the framework agreement was reached at talks between military officials in Tirana and had been forwarded to the North Atlantic Council, NATO's ruling political body. Details were still being discussed. A KLA representative in London said on Wednesday ethnic Albanian guerrillas would not disarm in northern Kosovo until Russia agreed to place its troops under a unified command with NATO forces. Pleurat Sejdiu said KLA fighters would "react militarily" if Russian forces tried to enforce a partition of Kosovo. But British officials said Russia's peacekeeping role in Kosovo had not been included in the Tirana talks. They said the framework agreement included a timetable for KLA disarmament and NATO intended to hold the KLA leadership to the agreement. Earlier today, U.S. marines patrolling southern Kosovo disarmed about 100 fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army on Wednesday after a standoff with a KLA commander, witnesses said. The marines deployed several Cobra helicopter gunships, light armoured vehicles and a machinegun squad after spotting the KLA men walking down from the hills towards the town of Gnjilane. Lieutenant John Marcinek told Reuters photographer Jim Hollander that a marine battalion commander entered into negotiations with a local KLA commandant to persuade him to order the ethnic Albanian guerrillas to hand over their weapons. When the commandant refused, marines ordered him and two accompanying KLA fighters to lie face down on the ground. Marcinek then went down the road to where the other KLA men were waiting and demanded their weapons. He said they complied without argument. "We put all the weapons in the back of an armoured vehicle. They were piled up to the top" Marcinek said. So far, KFOR disarmed only guerrillas who provoked Serbian troops and refused orders to back off.

Source: Free Serbia

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