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News Archive 1999

KLA refuse to disarm and terrorizes Serbs

Eyewitnesses said six KLA gunmen intercepted a column of Serbs leaving the village of Kojlovica, 5 km north of Pristina, around 18:00 Monday. They said two brothers from the Krstic family, Slavisa and Bogdan, and a man identified as Dragan Jovanovic were extracted by the KLA from the column and shot dead on the spot with automatic weapons. Mother of the Krstic brothers said they were slain in the presence of their children and wives. In Pristina, a Serb employee of Radio Pristina Ilija Sukic (30) was shot dead in front of his home in the Taslidze section of the city at 18:30 yesterday and three other Serbs were abducted. Another two Serb men were killed in Pristina. They were shot in the early hours of Sunday morning, in the suburb of Vranjevac on the outskirts of Pristina. The men had reportedly come into Pristina to look for a 22-year-old boy, who was described as their godson. The men's families were notified that they had been kidnapped on Sunday afternoon, and Serbian police and K-For troops attempted to find them. The bodies were found the next day on the streets of Vranjevac.

Britain's Financial Times quoted the commander of Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas in Pristina as saying he rejected a U.N. resolution calling on them to disarm. Group has set up an office in Pristina on Monday. Rustem Mustafer said the KLA's goal was to transform itself into the army of an independent state of Kosovo. KLA fighters were given free rein in the Prizren area under German control, setting up at least two checkpoints on roads out of town. Villages of Gotovusa and Zupa on Brezovica mountain came under heavy KLA sniper fire last night and yesterday. Town of Strpci was cut off from rest of the Kosovo when KLA fighters blocked all roads out of town. In Strpci, there is around 8,000 of Serbs at the moment, mostly women, children and old people. Village Orahovac is also under KLA blockade, where several thousands of Serbs from nearby villages took shelter from KLA. The only route out of Prizren runs through a village controlled by the Kosovo Liberation Army, and KLA fighters have said they cannot guarantee the safety of any Serb passing through. German Nato peacekeeping troops are now in negotiations with the KLA over the Serbian departure, because KLA demands control over city center. German soldiers disarmed several members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, as they tried to seize wounded Serb soldiers at the main Prizren hospital. In Prizren, about 100 Serbs who could not get out took refuge in a church, terrified by what was happening outside. A few Serb businesses were looted. Germans claim these were isolated incidents, but they only confirmed the Serb's worst fears of the Albanians.

KLA on Tuesday moved into the emptied Yugoslav army barracks and held victory parades in Prizren, as German troops said they had no orders to stop them. KLA parade followed the final withdrawal of all Yugoslav forces overnight. "From today, the city is in KLA hands 100 percent," Rexha Ekrem, the area's senior KLA commander declared at an press briefing. Brig. Gen. Fritz von Korff told journalists he had no orders to disarm the KLA or interfere with them in any way, unless they hindered his mission. NATO originally planned to disarm the KLA as part of the abortive Rambouillet peace plan, but then downgraded this to a vague "demilitarization" once the war started in late March. The chief of ethnic Albanian rebels in southern Kosovo, Hajrush Kurtaj, vowed Tuesday to keep his troops in the hills with their weapons and said they would only disarm on orders from Kosovo's provisional government. "We are a well-organized army, we have our military command and a provisional government led by Hashim Thaqi," Kurtaj said.

The commander of British forces in Pristina on Tuesday urgently appealed to ethnic Albanians and KLA fighters to allow Serb forces to withdraw unhindered from the city as guerrillas surrounded a building where Yugoslav soldiers were holed up. British forces also reported a growing number of attacks on departing Serb forces.

Source: Free Serbia

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