REUTERS

Mine Kills Three Romanies Gypsies, Injures One In Kosovo

MALI ALAS, Aug 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) Three Romanies were killed and one injured
when their vehicle drove over a mine planted in a road in Kosovo, a spokeswoman
for the British peacekeepers there said on Thursday.

The mine exploded in the village of Mali Alas, around 15 km (12 miles) south of
Kosovo's capital Pristina, on Wednesday at around 9.30 p.m. (1930 GMT), said Kath
Hurley, spokeswoman for the British contingent of the NATO-led KFOR force.

At the scene, KFOR helicopters flew overhead while British and Finnish soldiers
scoured the area.

The commander of Britain's KFOR contingent, Brigadier Richard Shirreff, said the
attack had clearly been carefully planned. Asked who might be responsible, he said:

"It is somebody who has clearly targeted this particular family in a murderous
attack."

Hurley said a man, his son and a nephew had been killed while another son was
slightly injured. Earlier the peacekeepers had thought two people had been injured.

Mali Alas is an ethnically mixed village, with about 700 Albanian inhabitants and 250
Roma people.

Kosovo Serbs and other minorities like the Roma who are seen as their allies have
been frequently attacked by Albanians, angry at years of Serb repression, since
NATO-led peacekeepers took de-facto control of the province last June.

Ramush Haradinaj, a former separatist Kosovo Albanian guerrilla and now leader of
the third biggest political group, the Alliance for Future, also arrived at the scene,
saying he wanted to offer condolences to relatives of the victims.

"It is not the time for such attacks," he said. "Albanians and Roma lived together for
a long time but after the war there were some attacks against Roma because some
were involved in attacks against Albanians," he said.

"Those attacks prevent Kosovo heading for the future," he said.


AFP

Serb shot dead in flashpoint Kosovo region

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Aug 6 (AFP) - An elderly Serb has been
found shot dead in an ethnically-mixed area of Kosovo where four
people were murdered earlier this week, a UN spokeswoman said
Sunday.
Claire Trevena said the 63-year-old Serb was found dead by a
patrol of KFOR peacekeepers who heard shots in the village of
Skulaneva, six miles (10 kilometres) south of Pristina. An
investigation has been launched by Kosovo's UN police force, she
added.
Late Wednesday three Roma gypsies in the village of Mali Alas,
three miles (five kilometres) south of Skulaneva, were killed by an
improvised bomb placed outside their home and probably triggered by
a trip wire, UN police said.
On the same night a 15-year-old ethnic Albanian boy was shot
four times in the chest by unknown gunmen as his father drove him
through the village of Magura, three miles (five kilometres)
southwest of Skulaneva.
The three villages are all in the municipality of Lipljan, one
of the most ethnically-mixed in Kosovo. A profile of the area
released in June by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
Europe said 84 percent of an estimated population of 74,643 were
ethnic Albanians, 12.5 percent Serbs and two percent Roma.
Since the arrival in June last year of the KFOR multinational
peacekeeping force and the end of a bitter civil war between ethnic
Albanian separatists and Yugoslav forces, Serbian civilians have
often found themselves the victims of revenge attacks.
The most bloody to date was the massacre in July 1999 of 14
Serbs in the village of Gracko, also in Lipljan.
On June 15 this year two Serbs were killed when their car hit a
bomb near the village of Lepina, less than one mile (two kilometres)
from the scene of Saturday's murder.


AFP

Moderate Kosovo Serbs Fear Assassination by Belgrade Agents

GRACANICA, Aug 7, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Moderate Serb leaders in
Kosovo have been warned by a source close to Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic's regime that they could be assassinated, the spokesman for the Serbian
National Council (SNV) said Sunday.

"The SNV has received very confidential information from a person close to the
regime in Belgrade," Father Janjic Sava told reporters after a meeting of the
umbrella group representing Serbian interests in Kosovo.

"It is possible that Belgrade might organize even assassinations or certain kinds of
attacks on members of the SNV. We still don't know whether it is true or not," he
added.

Sava, who would not identify the source in Belgrade, said that the SNV had passed
on details of the warning to Kosovo's UN administration and to the KFOR
multinational peacekeeping force.

"We hope that something like that will not happen because that would only make the
position of the Serbian people much worse in the eyes of the international
community," Sava said.

"It would make the position of the Belgrade regime even worse."

Sava's warning came after 103 delegates from Kosovo's Serbian minority
communities voted unanimously to endorse a declaration signed on July 24 in the
United States by their leaders and leaders of Kosovo's Albanian majority on
promoting a democratic, multi-ethnic future in the province.

Members of the SNV have agreed to take part in Kosovo's interim UN-led
administrations, to the fury of Belgrade and some Kosovo Serb hardliners, in
particular those in Northern Mitrovica led by Oliver Ivanovic.


REUTERS

Armed Albanian Group An Enigma In South Serbia

DOBROSIN, Aug 7, 2000 -- (Reuters) Local Albanians in this southern Serbian
village near the boundary with Kosovo see the armed guerrillas among them as
their defenders against Serb police.

Serbian authorities brand them "Albanian terrorists" and say they have attacked
police checkpoints repeatedly this year.

NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo (KFOR), keeping a wary watch from just
over the boundary, say the guerrillas are a threat to security and have tried to cut
their supply lines.

The rebels themselves refuse to give their side of the story in Dobrosin, a remote
village which nestles inconspicuously in wooded hills near the Presevo Valley.

An Albanian flag is flying and the Serb police are nowhere to be seen, but
Dobrosin, unlike Kosovo, is still officially under Serbian government control.

The sight of two armed men in fatigues on a street corner comes as a reminder of
the tension.

The pair are clearly members of the Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac
Liberation Army (UCPMB in Albanian), a mysterious group which has raised
fears of a new Kosovo-style conflict in the mainly Albanian populated area to the
east of the province.

"It is an insurgent group inside Serbia," said U.S. Captain Tom Hairgrove,
commander of KFOR's Outpost Sapper on the Kosovo boundary line overlooking
Dobrosin. "My mission up here on this hill is to prevent violence from spreading
into Kosovo."

U.S. TANKS OVERLOOK DOBROSIN

To drive home that message, U.S. tanks and armored personnel carriers are
stationed with their guns pointing towards Serbia. Two Apache helicopters hover
overhead.

U.S. soldiers search men, women and children passing the checkpoint on their
way to and from Dobrosin, where the guerrillas are believed to have their base.

"We are trying to restrict their (UCPMB's) movements more or less now, to
prevent or slow down the violence," Hairgrove said, looking down towards the
village and the fields around it.

The area of southern Serbia adjoining Kosovo has seen an upsurge in violence
since the withdrawal last summer of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo, some of them
to this area.

The UCPMB is named after three towns in government-controlled Serbia's
Presevo Valley and deliberately echoes the Kosovo Liberation Army, (KLA)
known to Albanians as the UCK, which fought Serb security forces for a year
before NATO intervened on its side.

Western officials say that if the UCPMB, which has been involved in several
sporadic clashes with police, thinks it can draw NATO into a conflict in
government-controlled Serbia, it should think again.

Hairgrove estimated that the group had around 60 members in Dobrosin and said
it had increased its activities recently. He underlined that he could not see what
the Serb police were doing in response to UCPMB activity.

"From my position I've seen an increased amount of patrolling, I've seen the use
of mortars, outgoing, by the UCPMB, just a general overall increase in military
operations in the area, all on that side of the provincial boundary," he said.

Only Serb police are allowed to patrol the area where Dobrosin lies, in a five-km
(three-mile) buffer zone between territory controlled by the Yugoslav army and
Kosovo, where tens of thousands of NATO-led troops are based.

Around 50 incidents have been registered along the boundary in Serbia over the
past year, according to figures published by independent Serb media. Around 15
people, mostly Albanians, were killed. More than 20 were wounded, including
many police.

REBELS SEEN AT FUNERAL

Locals say members of the "liberation army", which has pledged to defend the
ethnic Albanian population in the region, were first seen in January at the funeral
of two woodcutter brothers killed by Serbian police near Dobrosin.

"If the UCPMB was not here, we would have to flee," said one man in Dobrosin.
He and other villagers denied Serbian allegations that the group was attacking
police checkpoints, saying they were only trying to defend the village.

"We have no reason to be afraid," said one 10-year-old girl, adding that the
UCPMB was defending them.

Down in the Presevo Valley a few km (miles) east, Serb police operate several
checkpoints dotted on roads to Kosovo, one of them leading up to Dobrosin in the
hills above.

Locals say it is unsafe to travel on that road from the Presevo Valley to Dobrosin,
which is now safely accessible only from Kosovo.

Most local Albanians in the area - with the exception of people in
UCPMB-controlled Dobrosin - insist they know nothing about the rebels and say
they do not support them.

"I've never had any contact with them," said Asim Azemi, a teacher in Konculj
village, scene of many recent incidents.

A Western diplomat said the situation in the Presevo Valley was less antagonistic
than the environment in Kosovo before the 1998-9 conflict, even though
Albanians complain about discrimination, harassment and police beatings.

But, he added, "it only takes a small group of 'freedom fighters' to cause a
conflict...things escalate easily here."

One Albanian leader in the area estimated that the UCPMB had around 200
fighters, suggesting it had increased in strength since January as a result of what
he described as police maltreatment of the local population.

He said some of the guerrillas were believed to be former KLA fighters, both
from the Presevo Valley and from Kosovo. But he stressed that he had no links
with them.

Stojance Arsic, the Serb mayor of Bujanovac - a municipality which also covers
Dobrosin - dismissed the rebels as former criminals.

"They are not a big threat," he said in his office in the town hall building, which
was damaged in June by one of several bombs planted in the area by unknown
attackers.

He accused the West of backing the "terrorists", saying KFOR failed to prevent
them from crossing the boundary.

Slavoljub Mihajlovic, a Serb investigating judge, said the armed group was also
attacking Albanians. "These terrorists also attack and bother their own people
loyal to Serbia."

Local Albanians accuse the authorities of routinely blaming "Albanian terrorists"
without producing evidence, suggesting it may be in Belgrade's interest to keep
tension high.

People in Konculj expressed their fear of being caught in the middle, some saying
police suspect innocent civilians of being linked to the rebels. Many villagers have
fled to Kosovo.

"I cannot even say who is shooting," said Azemi, the school teacher, referring to
sporadic gunshots and mortar fire echoing almost daily from the hills around him.
"We villagers do not want this to happen, but who asks us?"


AFP

Moderate Kosovo party hit again by violent attack

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Aug 7 (AFP) - A member of the
ethnic-Albanian moderate Kosovo Democratic League (LDK) narrowly
escaped injury when he was attacked by gunmen, a UN police spokesman
said Monday.
In the latest in a wave of attacks in the UN-administered
province, Mehmet Gerkinaj, an LDK chief near the northwestern town
of Srbica, was attacked outside his home late Sunday by unidentified
gunmen, spokesman Andriej Stepien told AFP.
The supporter of moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova escaped the
attack with no injuries, police said and an enquiry has begun.
A wave of political violence appears to be sweeping Kosovo in
the run-up to October municipal elections, and LDK members have been
its most frequent victims.
On Saturday another senior member of the LDK -- Kosovo's leading
ethnic Albanian political party -- was found dead 10 days after his
family reported him kidnapped.
On Wednesday last week, unidentified gunmen shot and injured
Sejdi Koci, the leader of the LDK in Srbica, also in northwest
Kosovo.
This attack followed a similar shooting the day before which
left Agim Veliu, LDK leader in Podujevo, northeast Kosovo, slightly
injured.
In reaction to the wave of violence, Kosovo's UN administration
announced Thursday it was creating a cell of UN officials, police
investigators, peacekeeping troops and OSCE election monitors to
examine the problem of political violence.
The KFOR multinational peacekeeping force also announced last
week that it hoped to send an additional 2,000 troops to Kosovo to
oversee security in the run-up to the poll.
October's elections will be the first fully democratic poll ever
held in Kosovo. Voters will choose local administrations in the
province's 30 municipality.
Polls conducted by the OSCE in the province earlier this year
suggested that the LDK will come out well ahead in voting, with
their nearest rivals likely to be the Democratic Party of Kosovo
(PDK) of Hashim Thaci, the former political leader of the guerrilla
Kosovo Liberation Army.


AFP

Too many doctors, too few patients in Kosovo's only Serb hospital

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Yugoslavia, Aug 7 (AFP) - Wards lie empty
and nurses leave an hour before the end of their shifts in the only
hospital in Kosovo that will treat Serbs.
"We've got far more doctors than we need in this public
hospital. We've had to take on internally displaced people because
of pressure from Belgrade who are desperate to keep Serbs in
Kosovo," explains Doctor Mirlan Ivanovic, deputy director of
Mitrovica Hospital.
"We've got to take them on even if we don't need them," admits
Cveta Jaksic, head of nursing, who is no longer even frustrated by
the sight of nurses knocking off for the weekend at Friday
lunchtime.
The number of patients has dropped by half in the last year,
while numbers of hospital staff have risen by a third.
Doctor Ivanovic says that from 700 staff before Kosovo's
1998-1999 civil war, there are now a thousand doctors, nurses, care
assistants and technicians working in the hospital where half the
beds remain unoccupied.
The corridors are deserted, many of the wards lie empty, and in
the waiting-rooms the nurses lounge around for up to an hour at a
time smoking and drinking endless cups of Turkish coffee, quietly
despairing of the hospital's hygiene, where, they say not a single
day goes by without a power cut or the water being cut off.
"More than 100,000 workers in the health sector have been driven
out of Kosovo," says Ivanovic, seated in his office beneath a
portrait of the Yugoslav Republic's President Slobodan Milosevic.
Next to the portrait is pinned up a copy of the Hippocratic Oath in
Serbian.
Between June and September 1999, in an effort to keep Serbs in
Kosovo, Milosevic prevented Serb medical personnel from Kosovo from
being employed in the rest of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
"For the first few months, we were basically on forced holiday,"
explains Sinisa Milic, a 33-year-old female anaesthetist, who a year
ago had to leave the Kosovan capital, Pristina, for Nis, in Serbia.
"I fled to Serbia after the war but I just couldn't find work
because of the regulations being laid down by Belgrade," adds Doctor
Srdjan Ivkovic, 36, who before the war worked in Kosovo at the spa
in the town of Glogovac.
"I can't complain," he says, "I earn twice what my colleagues in
Serbia earn, about 6,000 dinars (541 dollars)."
"By keeping the Serbs in Mitrovica, we're hoping to get them
back to Pristina as soon as possible," says Radoslav Orlovic, who's
been director of the hospital for 12 years.
"Everybody here is living for the day when they can be citizens
of Pristina again," echoes Tanja Popovic, formerly a doctor in
Pristina.
"Pristina is a little bit like Jerusalem for the Israelis," she
says.


KESTON NEWS SERVICE
Issue 8, Articles 10-11, 7 August 2000

Monday 7 August 2000

Kosovo: Allegation That Orthodox Priests Blessed Paramilitaries Denied

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

The controversial Albanian-language newspaper Dita published a group
photo of 22 people in Yugoslav army uniform on 4 July. Among them were
two bearded men, whom the paper identified as the priests of Partes and
Gnjilane (Gjilan in Albanian) although the paper did not name them or
give their addresses (which it did give for two other Serbs shown in the
photo). Dita's editor-in-chief BLERIM STAVILECI told Keston from
Pristina on 3 August that the men the paper identified as priests were
shown standing next to MILIVOJE JANKOVIC, a commander of the Black
Tigers, a Serbian paramilitary group. 'The pop [priest] of Partes,
together with the commander Milivoje Jankovic -- Mija and the pop of
Gjilan, after atrocities and massacres had been committed, blessed the
criminals and sang psalms to pardon their
sins,' the paper claimed.

Father Sava, a close aide to Bishop ARTEMIJE of Raska and Prizren, told
Keston, 'The accusations against our priests in Dita's article are
completely false. Our priests from Gnjilane and Partes immediately
issued a statement in which they denied any connection with
paramilitaries and reaffirmed their position against violence. They said
that the two persons falsely identified in the photograph published by
Dita as our priests are not Serbian Orthodox priests and do not look
like any priest from our diocese. Many of Milosevic's paramilitaries had
beards which could allow some Albanians to think that they might have
been priests.' Father Sava added that the photo was unclear, allowing
mistakes in identification.

However, Stavileci was adamant. 'The article was written according to
the witnesses and testimonies that our correspondent gathered in
Gjilan,' he told Keston. 'The citizens have testimony in KFOR and UNMIK
police for several days and weeks but the response is as usual: "We will
see and verify".' Stavileci claimed that KFOR had failed to take any
action over the allegations 'because its mandate is unclear and it
hesitates to undertake such a move toward jailing the suspected war
criminals', while the UNMIK police is 'inefficient and unable to meet
its duties'.

Stavileci added that neither of the accused had contacted Dita to
protest the publication of the photo or the accompanying text. 'If their
reactions would have arrived in our newspaper we would have published
them.' But Father Sava stated that the real priests of Partes and
Gnjilane had made protests to the international authorities. 'Our
priests requested the UN authorities and KFOR to scientifically examine
the photo and prove their claim of innocence.

The bishop supported his priests and strongly protested against Dita's
unfounded accusations.'

Father Sava resents any suggestion that Orthodox priests endorsed
violence during the interethnic conflict in Kosovo. 'The very idea that
any of our priests would "go with paramilitaries and bless the murders"
is not only wrong but is an outright unsult to our Church which has many
times condemned the Milosevic regime, before the war, during the war and
after it,' he told Keston.

'On the contrary, we have examples of our monks and priests who helped
Albanians in their suffering and offered them protection. For example in
Decani, where 150 Albanian civilians found refuge in the monastery. The
priests in Decani risked their lives to protect their Albanian
neighbours.'

As a direct consequence of its 4 July feature, Dita was fined by the
OSCE's Temporary Media Commissioner in Kosovo, DOUGLAS DAVIDSON, for
publishing the 'clearly identifiable photograph of various individuals,
that included personal details about where two of those individuals
currently reside'. The OSCE declared that this 'breached the regulation
which prohibits the publishing of information which could put an
individual's life or security in danger'. After failing to pay the fine
Dita was ordered closed on 27 July, an order the paper defied.

ROLAND BLESS, the OSCE spokesman, told Keston from Pristina on 3 August
that the fine was imposed on Dita not just for the publication of the
addresses of the two named individuals, but for the 'entire publication'
of the photo and the article. He added that the 12 July attack made no
difference to the decision to impose the fine. He declined comment on
whether the two bearded men identified by the paper as priests had been
involved with Serbian paramilitaries saying, that is a matter for the
judicial authorities.'

Speaking to Keston by telephone from Pristina on 27 July, GAZMEND PULA,
the chairman of the Kosovo Helsinki Committee (a member of the
Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation), declined to comment on
the allegations against the two 'priests'. However, he declared that his
Committee believed that any information people have on war crimes
suspects should be delivered to the international administrators in
Kosovo 'in accordance with proper procedure'. 'Coming out with names and
addresses amounts to a wanted list,' Pula declared. 'This is dangerous
for individuals and for the rule of law and instigates very dangerous
developments,' an apparent reference to the killing of Topoljski. (END)

Monday 7 August 2000

KOSOVO: ORTHODOX PRIEST AND TWO STUDENTS WOUNDED IN ATTACK

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

On 12 July, a Serbian Orthodox priest DRAGAN KOJIC and two theology
students identified as ZVONKO and DRAGISA were wounded when their car
was attacked with automatic gunfire while they were travelling on the
Klokot to Vitina road near Gnjilane, which lies in southeast Kosovo.
They were returning from serving the liturgy. Kojic was injured in the
shoulder, while Zvonko and Dragisa suffered leg and kidney injuries
respectively. Also in the car at the time of the attack was Father
Kojic's three-year-old child, who escaped unharmed. The NATO-led KFOR
peacekeeping force said international police found the three wounded men
by the side of the road and took them to the Camp Bondsteel US military
base near Urosevac.

The attack was condemned by local Serbs, the Orthodox Church and
international officials. 'I am not only shocked but deeply depressed
that
today criminals chose religious men as their targets,' said BERNARD
KOUCHNER, head of Kosovo's United Nations-led administration, in a
statement. 'It is totally unacceptable that this kind of revenge killing
substitute itself for justice.'

ROLAND BLESS, the OSCE spokesman, declined to comment on the 12 July
attack and whether it was linked to the Dita article, declaring that the
attack was the subject of an 'ongoing investigation' by the police.A
statement from the Serbian National Council of Kosovo-Metohija
immediately condemned the attack and linked it to the Dita article of 4
July in which Serbs from Gnjilane had been named as being responsible
for 'war crimes' (see separate KNS article). The statement added that
the two priests from Gnjilane who the paper claimed had cooperated with
Serbian paramilitary forces were 'completely innocent'. The council went
on to demand an urgent investigation into the attack and specific
measures to prevent Albanian language papers from 'rekindling hatred and
causing violence'.

Father SAVA JANJIC, a close aide to Bishop ARTEMIJE of Raska and
Prizren, told Beta news agency on 12 July that he had called Dita 'a
mujaheddin newspaper' during sessions of the Transitional Council of
Kosovo because of what he regarded as its public calls for the lynching
of Kosovo Serbs. He demanded that the paper be closed down. However, in
his statement to Keston News Service on 3 August, Dita's editor-in-chief
BLERIM STAVILECI rejected any linkage between the publication of the 4
July article and photo and the 12 July attack on Father Kojic and the
two students. (END)

Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute.

LINKS:

PS.News reports on some of the actions by the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo during the War
http://www.kosovo.net/decani_peace.html

Appeal of Decani Monks in June 1998
http://www.kosovo.net/declaration1.html

More texts and statements by the Church and the Serb National Council
http://www.kosovo.net/texts2.html

Attack on Priest in Gnjilane Area, July 2000
http://www.kosovo.net/klokot.html



NIN

NIN, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Issue 2585, July 13, 2000

Mines in the wheat fields

KFOR has rejected the request of villagers of Staro Gracko to check if there are any landmines left in their fields with the explanation that this is an expensive and lengthy operation

By LIDIJA KUJUNDZIC

Fourteen villagers, all Serbs, were found on July 14, 1999 in the woods next to Staro Gracko. They were murdered by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army while they were harvesting wheat. Many of them were bound hand and foot and shot in the nape of the neck. The representatives of the international community never discovered how their lifeless bodies ended up in the small woods, and the investigation is still in progress. This year the villagers of Staro Gracko asked the local KFOR commander to check if there were any landmines left in their fields. The request was refused.

“They told us that they couldn’t check whether there are landmines in the fields because that is an expensive operation which would require a lot of time. KFOR offered to watch us during the harvest and they guaranteed that no one would attack us while we were harvesting,” says Momir Cankovic of Staro Gracko and added: “I told them to get a harvester themselves and come gather our wheat if they are sure there are no landmines in the fields.”

Crosses for Serbs

These fears are shared by the villagers in Gracanica and in the villages surrounding Lipljan. “Maybe there are no landmines in our fields,” says Petar Mihajlovic of Gracanica, “but God only knows what fell from the sky here during the time of the bombing and what the Shiptars left behind”.

In Kosovo NATO also used bombs filled with depleted uranium but representatives of the international community have not seriously investigated the level of contamination of the land and water in places where these bombs fell, nor the precise locations where the depleted uranium bombs were dropped.

In sector South where the Germans are in command many such bombs fell, especially in villages near Prizren, and this was later documented in the reports of some international organizations which came to Kosovo and Metohija.

However, on the “map” of the sector produced the information center of the multinational brigade South, only the areas where there are still unexploded landmines are marked. It is interesting that there are mines, if one is to believe KFOR’s map, in only two places along the border with Albania and Macedonia, even though Lieutenant Colonel Peter Vocnijak, the head of the information service of the multinational brigade South during a conversation with this NIN reporter did not deny the fact that the border of Kosovo with Albania and Macedonia is completely “open”, one reason being that the entire length of the border is mined.

“We provided you with quality bombing,” said Lieutenant Colonel Vocnijak to this NIN reporter in Prizren. When asked whether it was true that the Germans had drawn crosses on the houses of the Serbs who remain in Prizren and told this was reminiscent of the Nazis who during the 1930’s drew Stars of David on businesses and houses belonging to Jews, Lieutenant Colonel Vocnijak did not respond directly: “It is a mistake to compare the Serbs in Kosovo with the Jews. We are here to protect the Serbs and the others, and the Nazis killed the Jews.”

Nonetheless, this NIN reporter did see a cross in Prizren.

This NIN reporter does not know who drew it but remembered it on the facade of a house close to a former furniture store, drawn in black oil paint.

KFOR would not allow this NIN reporter to see for herself whether all three bunkers - weapons and explosive storage facilities - near Klecka were actually destroyed. In the Radio-Television building where the multinational brigade Center is based, British Air Force lieutenant Tim Sorrel-Cook (sp?) said:

“We’re very sorry but that just won’t be possible. After our operation, the situation is such that the local population is not well-disposed toward us. Major Plant cannot guarantee your security.” When this reporter mentioned that she wasn’t safe anywhere in Kosovo and that she was prepared to take a risk in order to personally convince herself of the efficiency of the most recent KFOR confiscation and destruction of weapons in Kosovo and Metohija, during which British soldiers, primarily, got the glory, Lieutenant Sorrel said:

“Your own security is not the only issue. We are also responsible for the lives of our own soldiers. We also have consider, you must understand, the consequences of having a Serb reporter in Klecka.”

Bunkers of Klecka

However, Lieutenant Sorrel kindly offered this NIN reporter the possibility of viewing KFOR’s video material on the “operation” in Klecka so that she could have some idea of the course of the operation and the quantity of weapons confiscated. In order to get a copy of this video for herself, NIN’s reporter had to search the nearby open-air market with a fine-toothed comb and purchase a video cassette.

“Video on Operation” is an amateur production, poorly shot, from which the location of the bunkers cannot be determined. The first part of the video was shot at night and in a manner which makes it impossible to determine whether the “bunker” is above or below ground. In the room, which was even wired with electricity, there were all sorts of things: from old Mausers (the precursor of the M-48 rifle) to trunks of 120 millimeter grenades for mortars. In front of the entrance, which can barely be discerned among some kind of nylon screens, a BBC reporter interviewed the British officers and junior officers who discovered the “bunker”.

The second part of the video is devoted to the arrival of Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the special envoy of the secretary general of the United Nations for Kosovo and Meothija, who together with Russian officers was present at the destruction of the weapons in Klecka. On that day, two antitank mines and approximately two kilograms of explosive were destroyed in Klecka (this is clearly visible on the video). The explosion was “strictly controlled”. The video does not show Dr. Kouchner visiting the destroyed bunker. The third part of the video material shows how much and what kinds of weapons were confiscated. An impressive quantity of mines, explosives, rifle grenades of all calibers, rifles, automatic rifles, nonrecoiling cannon... of German, Yugoslav and Chinese manufacture.

No matter how significant the “operation” of KFOR in Klecka was, first and foremost for the international community which is still not prepared to face its ever more obvious mistakes, the situation in Kosovo and Metohija will not truly begin to improve until full control is established on the border with Albania and Macedonia and until those bunkers are truly destroyed. This assumption was confirmed by Lieutenant Colonel Vocnijak himself: “We are all aware that in two months Klecka will be full again.”

Members of the British KFOR contingent were not able to escort this NIN reporter to Decani where the Albanians and the monks from the monastery have been waging a war for weeks regarding the building of a water tower on the estate of the Decani Monastery and the cutting down of a centuries-old pine forest.

“All of our vehicles are being repaired,” was all that the KFOR officer on duty had to say.


REUTERS

Former KLA Members Face War Crimes Probe

THE HAGUE, Aug 9, 2000 -- (Reuters) Several members of the former Kosovo
Liberation Army face investigation by the UN war crimes tribunal for alleged
atrocities committed during NATO's 78-day bombing campaign last year.

Carla del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who took over as the UN's main
prosecutor nearly a year ago, said in an interview on Tuesday that investigators
were looking at five suspected atrocity locations in the Serbian province.

"Some investigations are under way where the victims are Serbs," Del Ponte told
Reuters Video News.

She declined to name those who faced the probe and did not give any indications
as to which locations were being investigated. But she said the probe was into
individuals and not the former guerrilla organization as a whole.

"The investigation is into members of the KLA suspected of committing crimes,"
she said, adding that the investigation would lead as high up the chain of command
as was necessary.

The vast majority of war crimes committed in Kosovo, where up to 10,000 people
died, were carried out by the ethnic Serb police and paramilitaries against the
ethnic Albanian minority.

"The investigations are under way and we hope to end them as soon as possible,"
Del Ponte said. But she was unable to say whether the probes would be
completed ahead of planned local elections due in the province on October 17.

The KLA was disarmed and disbanded last September as part of the cease-fire
agreement that put an end to the bloody conflict.

Some former KLA members are standing in the polls and there has been some
violence in the run-up to voting.

Although nominally part of Serbia and Yugoslavia, Kosovo has become a de facto
international protectorate run by the UN backed by NATO-led peacekeepers.

Del Ponte said one of the problems investigators faced in Kosovo was that many
of the alleged Serb victims had fled the province since NATO-led troops entered
in June 1999.

"We are trying to persuade the Serbs to let our investigators in," she said.

Serbia, unlike its fellow Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, does not recognize the
authority of the Hague-based tribunal.


G&M

http://www.globeandmail.com/gam/Commentary/20000809/COKOSOVO.html

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Wednesday, August 9, 2000

NATO in Kosovo: in bed with a scorpion

The KLA is running drugs and refueling conflict. No wonder even innocent
tourists can get arrested

SUNIL RAM

The arrest of two Canadians and two Britons in Montenegro last week has
caused the ire of the West to be directed, once again, against Serb
leader Slobodan Milosevic. But, as Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd
Axworthy decries his "thug" tactics, it is well to remember that there
is a dark side to NATO's ally in Kosovo as well. And peacekeeping forces
could soon be faced with enemies on two fronts if they hope to maintain
order in the Balkans.

As early as March of 1999, The Times of London reported links between
the KLA and narcotics trafficking. In the same month, the ITAR-Tass news
agency reported that the chief of the Russian Armed Forces, General
Anatoly Kvashnin, had sent a letter to the Supreme Commander of NATO
forces in Europe, General Wesley Clark and to the chairman of the NATO
Military Committee, Klaus Naumann, detailing the involvement of "Kosovo
terrorists" in the narcotics trade in Europe. The letter outlined the
"where, what, how, and why" of the KLA drug business. By ignoring these
warnings, NATO had created a formula for failure in Kosovo.

NATO planners chose to ignore this information in their haste to win
their "just war." A year after NATO intervention in Kosovo, the Alliance
has failed to meet its key objective of keeping the peace. Kosovo has
degraded to the point where crime, illegal weapons and drug trafficking
are rampant.

Ironically, KFOR (Kosovo Force) troops are now forced to defend
themselves against violent armed aggression from ethnic Albanians. NATO
troops were never intended to police a hostile population and, least of
all, deal with international drug and arms smuggling. As Army
Brigadier-General John Craddock noted in late June of 1999, after U.S.
troops had for the first time been forced to fire on hostile ethnic
Albanians, "We have become the targets of violent acts." Not exactly the
role NATO envisioned.

In an effort to end the threat of KLA attacks against NATO forces, in
June of this year, U.S. troops led a series of raids against
ethnic-Albanian strongholds to seize arms caches. A senior Pentagon
official had reported that the situation in Kosovo was deteriorating
rapidly, and that U.S. troops could be forced into armed conflict with
the Albanian guerrillas. Clearly, if NATO cannot control the KLA and its
drug trade there will be no peace to keep in Kosovo.

The KLA has bloomed in the NATO/UN sponsored power vacuum due to an
ineffective, or nonexistent, plan for the development of a governmental
structure in Kosovo. This resurgence has allowed key KLA leaders to
become power brokers in the region. Hashim Thaci, the leader of the
KLA's political wing, has become the key contact point for NATO, the UN
and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, making him
the most important ethnic-Albanian politician in Kosovo. In turn, the
former commander of the KLA's military wing, Agim Ceku, commands the new
Kosovo Protection Corps, which is mainly comprised of former KLA
fighters. Financing for these activities comes from heroin trafficking.

The KLA is heavily involved in the illicit Balkan drug trade, better
known as the Balkan Route. Balkan drug organizations helped the KLA
funnel arms and cash into Kosovo for the continuing guerrilla war
against Belgrade. With the tacit support of the KLA and its leadership,
Kosovo has become the primary conduit for heroin trafficking from
Afghanistan via Turkey and the Balkans into Western Europe. Clearly,
those organized-crime elements who helped the KLA now want to cash in on
their previous good will.

European police organizations estimate that, every month, two to six
tonnes of heroin, worth twelve times its weight in gold, moves through
Turkey toward Eastern Europe. This route originates in the Taliban-run
opium fields of Afghanistan and is worth an estimated $400-billion
(U.S.) a year. Kosovars (ethnic Albanians from Kosovo) now dominate the
Balkan Route which supplies 80 per cent of Europe's heroin. Interpol
figures indicate that Albanian speakers represent approximately 1 per
cent of Europe's population, yet in 1997 they made up 14 per cent of all
Europeans arrested for heroin smuggling, and on average they carried
substantially larger quantities of the drug.

Besides cash, the Balkan Route also acts as conduit for illegal arms to
the KLA. Arms are either smuggled in directly or money earned from the
illicit drug trade is used to purchase weapons in Albania, Bosnia,
Croatia, Cyprus, Italy, Montenegro, Switzerland and Turkey. NATO has
reported that weapons smuggled into Kosovo included: anti-aircraft
missiles, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers,
mortars, ammunition, antipersonnel mines and infrared night-vision gear.

In fact, regardless of their guilt or innocence on terrorism charges,
the detained Canadians likely ran afoul of increased Serbian border
surveillance aimed at deterring these activities.

The greatest irony of this situation is that the U.S. government has
been well aware of the Balkan Route and the KLA connection for some
years. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reported in 1998 that
ethnic-Albanian organizations in Kosovo are "second only to Turkish
gangs as the predominant heroin smugglers along the Balkan route." NATO
and the United States ignored this for the political expediency of the
war in Kosovo.

Kosovo never represented a traditional UN peacekeeping scenario for
NATO. The role was more peace enforcement. Yet NATO personnel are simply
not equipped and trained to handle the policing of the drug trade that
is fuelling the violence in Kosovo.

The presence of NATO forces has created a clear social divide between
Serb and Kosovar, which has exacerbated the ethnic violence. The ethnic
violence is also escalating as the KLA moves for independence, as
indicated by its rearmament. Rearmament has been made possible due to
the ethnic-Albanian control of the Balkan Route. KFOR has become caught
in a snare where it is being forced to fight all sides in the conflict;
thus its role as peace enforcer has been lost and it has merely become
another combatant in Kosovo.

So NATO is left with only one realistic option -- it must militarily
face down the KLA to stop the rearmament process and in turn shut down
the drug trafficking that is not just affecting Kosovo, but all of
Europe. NATO, the saviour, may be forced to become the oppressor in
Kosovo.

 

Sunil Ram is a professor of Balkan military history at the American Military University in Virginia and an associate of the Institute for UN and International Affairs. He wrote a training program in peacekeeping operations titled Peacekeeping in the Former Yugoslavia: From The Dayton Accord to Kosovo.


The Washington Times
August 10, 2000

COMMENTARY

Kosovo's future
by Doug Bandow

The war in Kosovo ended more than a year ago, but the
Clinton administration rarely trumpets its "triumph."
Conditions in the territory continue to deteriorate and
America could eventually find itself fighting its supposed
allies, the ethnic Albanians.

Unfortunately, it will be much harder to get out than it
was to get in. Washington should turn Kosovo over to the
Europeans, as part of their European Security and Defense
Identity.

The attempt to preserve a multilateral Kosovo is dead:
Most ethnic Serbs, an estimated 250,000 to 260,000, have
fled. Ethnic Albanians have also kicked out Gypsies, Jews
and even non-Albanian Muslims.

Even more problematic is the attempt to preclude an
independent Kosovo. Garrison commander Gen. Klaus
Reinhardt observed earlier this year: "When NATO came
into Kosovo, we were only supposed to fight the Yugoslav
army if they came back uninvited. Now we're finding we
have to fight the Albanians."

That prospect will only strengthen critics of current
policy. It took opposition from both President Clinton and
Republican presidential nominee George Bush to narrowly
defeat congressional attempts to withdraw U.S. forces from
Kosovo.

No amount of administration pressure is likely to bar the
door if Americans end up as casualties in Kosovo. The
General Accounting Office recently warned of a "volatile"
situation, and that "many difficult political, social and other
issues remain unresolved."

Even more ominous, warns the British intelligence firm
Jane's: "It is virtually inevitable that there will be further
casualties among KFOR troops - a prospect, which raises
the specter of a Somalia-style fiasco in which the
peacekeepers become themselves the targets."

Imagine having to explain to Americans why their sons
and husbands were battling - and dying at the hands of -
the people the United States came to protect. Public support
for the mission would evaporate.

Europe is also at risk. If CNN begins bringing casualties
into American homes, the issue, as in Somalia, will not be
whether the forces come home, but how quickly they come
home. Such a precipitous withdrawal would leave the
European Union to pick up the pieces.

Moreover, deeper questions are likely to be raised. Why
should Washington continue to bail out countries unwilling
to defend their own interests? Why should U.S. taxpayers
indirectly subsidize bloated European welfare states? Who
needs an American-dominated NATO in a world without the
Soviet Union?

Those queries should be asked irrespective of who has
how many troops in the Balkans. But the debate will be far
uglier if conducted while Washington is rushing,
Somalia-style, to bring home American soldiers.

Therefore, Europe should take over KFOR. Command has
already devolved on the Eurocorps, providing the
multinational unit with its first significant operational
commitment. The Europeans should now provide all of
KFOR's Western troops. With nearly 3 million soldiers,
Europe is capable of supplying KFOR's full complement of
45,700, 7,000 of whom are Americans.

Indeed, the EU could easily replace the 6,400 other
American troops on duty elsewhere in the Balkans,
principally in Bosnia.

The justification for reducing the U.S. burden is obvious
enough. Washington spends 40 percent more than Europe
on defense, despite possessing a smaller GDP and
population. The Europeans lag behind the United States on
almost every military measure; most significant is the
disparity in fighting power, evident in Europe's dismal
performance during the war against Serbia.

The Europeans, too, would gain. Their security would no
longer be dependent on potentially fickle American
policy-makers.

They could act if Washington chose not to - as
Australia did in East Timor. Moreover, EU members would
no longer be so easily pushed into military actions that they
opposed.

At the same time, ESDI would likely improve relations
between the United States and Europe. President Clinton
has defended the Europeans from charges that they were
abdicating their responsibilities, but with allied military
commitment continuing to slide - German officials predict
defense expenditures will soon fall to little above 1 percent
of GDP, one-third American levels - the Europeans are
shamelessly taking advantage of Washington's generosity.

Corrosive resentment is likely to spread in the United
States, given Europe's willingness to hand out blank checks
on America's military account. European Commission
President Romano Prodi has suggested that the EU offer
security guarantees to non-NATO EU members.

The enforcement burden would inevitably fall on
America. As would protection of ever-more-distant NATO
members - nine Central and East European countries have
requested to be admitted into the alliance in 2002.

U.S. policy-makers have so often cried wolf about burden
sharing that the Europeans don't much listen anymore. But,
growing congressional criticism indicates American
patience is not boundless.

The most likely catalyst for a precipitous U.S. reaction is
Kosovo. Which seems inevitable, unless the Europeans
take over responsibility for KFOR. Before the first U.S.
casualty comes home from Kosovo.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.


THE NEW YORK TIMES
August 11, 2000

KOSOVO POLJE JOURNAL

His Serbian Flock Scattered, the Priest Reflects

By STEVEN ERLANGER

KOSOVO POLJE, Kosovo -- The Rev. Radivoje Panic has had more
than his share of parishes.

He lived in Pristina, the Kosovo capital, for
nearly 10 years, and often gave sermons at
a small church on Taslixhe hill. A witness to
terror by his own Serbs, humiliated by his
inability to stop the expulsion of Albanians
from Pristina, he found himself expelled by them in turn.

He was assigned to a church here in Kosovo Polje, a largely Serbian
town a few miles southwest of Pristina, but it was badly damaged by
hand grenades a year ago, despite the British troops nearby. About a
month ago it was attacked again, reduced to rubble by dynamite in a
large explosion, the third church destroyed in six weeks.

Now Father Panic serves at the last remaining church in Kosovo Polje,
the Church of St. Nicholas, which is surrounded by barbed wire and
patrolled by troops. It's a bizarre life, and oddly lonely. However potent
religious symbols have been for Serbian nationalism and identity, neither
the Serbs nor the Albanians are especially devout after so many years of
Communism. Not many Serbs come to church -- mostly the old and
those who want to light candles for the dead.

Even on June 28, the anniversary of the famous 1389 battle that marked
the loss of this province to the Ottoman Turks for 500 years, only 11
people came here to worship. More surprising, only 70-odd came to
mark the event at the early 14th-century monastery at nearby Gracanica.
Services there -- under the eyes of NATO soldiers, who to some Serbs
are the new Ottomans -- were conducted by Patriarch Pavle, the head of
the entire Serbian Orthodox Church, and by Bishop Artemije, the
church's leader in Kosovo.

At least 8,000 Serbs live around Gracanica, but even on such a symbolic
day, sighed the Rev. Sava Janjic, the bishop's aide and spokesman, "you
could see the empty chairs."

Father Panic, who describes himself as a simple priest, tries to see the
situation as a whole. "This is the tragedy of all of us, Serbs and
Albanians," he said. "There's no way to justify what happened or to
improve on it. With the war and the bombing, the Albanians were pushed
to leave the cities, towns and villages, and after the bombing stopped, the
Serbs were pushed to leave."

He remained in Pristina throughout the war. "To be frank," he said, "I
didn't see anyone personally being expelled from their apartments and
houses, but I did see many Albanians leaving with their goods. I asked
people why they were leaving, and they said that a lot of people were
being pushed out of the apartments and houses by Serbs with guns, and
that they were afraid this would happen to them."

There were a lot of armed Serbian police officers, he said, standing guard
and guiding those who were leaving.

And what did he do?

He looked away, out the window, toward the barbed wire. "I remember
one instance, when we tried to explain to the police that they were
making a mistake, that this Albanian was a good man, that we knew him.
We tried at least individually to protect him. But this cop told me to get
out of there, that this was not my business."

He paused again, played with a pencil. "Individually and collectively we
have responsibility," he said slowly. "But you can't punish someone based
on collective guilt. What is happening now is not the responsibility of all
the Albanian people. I woke up one morning to see a large group of
Albanians leaving Pristina. How? Why? Could someone stop that? I
explained one case. Milosevic's propaganda did the worst things here
and still does today."

The Serbian Orthodox Church, which broke with President Slobodan
Milosevic over his failures in Bosnia, and which calls for his resignation,
was clear in its attitude toward the war in Kosovo, Father Panic said.
The church opposed NATO's bombing, but it also opposed the wrong
done to Kosovo's Albanians, the murders and expulsions.

Father Sava, the bishop's aide, who often comes here to get a better
Internet connection on the church's telephone, says that the church should
have broken with Mr. Milosevic sooner, and that many priests became
too caught up in the nationalist fervor over Bosnia, with some of them
photographed atop advancing tanks. "And too many others were silent,"
Father Sava said.

He and Bishop Artemije are regarded as traitors by Belgrade -- and by
some Kosovo Serbs -- for working politically with Washington and the
United Nations civilian leader here, Bernard Kouchner, to try to increase
security for Serbs and allow more of them to return. The church
leadership has also expressed regret and sorrow for Serbian actions
here.

But its apologies to Albanians, and its call for tolerance and forgiveness,
ring hollow in Albanian ears, and many Serbs here still seem unable to
acknowledge what was done in their name or even by their neighbors.

"The war happened, and there was a lot of anger on both sides," Father
Panic said. "Evil things happened to ordinary Albanians, too, that's the
tragedy. But the peace has been signed. What happened, happened.
There were 60,000 Serbs in Pristina, and now there are 238. But life
must go on. And today I'm occupied mostly with the problems of simple
people, who did no evil to anyone. The ones who did the evil have left."

After the war last summer, Father Panic's apartment was robbed many
times and his car stolen. "There was no longer any way for me to live in
Pristina," he said. "So in September, I left Pristina forever and came
here."

On Taslixhe hill in Pristina, the church where Father Panic once
preached, in the once-mixed neighborhood where he once lived, is
guarded around the clock by the Royal Fusiliers, with their trademark
feathers of red and white shooting out of their caps. The church is fine,
but there are few Serbs left to use it; the soldiers, who keep watch from
a sandbag shelter 24 hours a day, in all weather, are bored to tears. But
the minute they leave, they know, the church will be vandalized and
destroyed, as some 80 others have been.

They have two dogs, mongrels, that keep them company. One they have
named NATO and the other Unmik, the acronym for the United Nations
Mission in Kosovo, which runs civilian life here. "NATO barks at all the
cars," a soldier said, laughing. "And Unmik sleeps."


Danas, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
August 14, 2000

At Orthodox cemetery in southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica

Approximately 500 gravestones destroyed

Kosovska Mitrovica (Beta) - At the Orthodox cemetery in the southern part of
Kosovska Mitrovica, approximately 500 gravestones have been destroyed or desecrated,
Serbs who visited the southern, Albanian part of the city yesterday under KFOR
accompaniment told Beta Agency. A group of approximately 120 Serbs visited the
Orthodox cemetery in the southern, Albanian part of the city for the first time
since June and saw that approximately 500 monuments and plates were destroyed. In
June, when the Serbs last visited this cemetery in an organized fashion,
approximately 200 gravestones were damaged. Copper lettering had been removed from
individual inscriptions on the gravestones, as well as several bronze busts, said
the Serbs who visited the cemetery.


MEDICINS SANS FRONTIERES
http://www.msf.org/projects/europe/kosovo/reports/2000/08/pr-enclaves/

ETHNIC CLEANSING CONTINUES IN UN-RULED KOSOVO, UNDER THE EYE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ACTORS
webplaced: August 7, 2000

Press release - Pristina/Brussels, August 7, 2000 - More than one year
since the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and Kosovo Force
(KFOR) took on the responsibility for the civil and military
administration, a significant number of people there still live in a
state of extreme insecurity.

The civilian populations of different ethnic groups are being terrorised
by constant and organised acts of violence which target them
specifically. These acts of terror include killings, drive-by shootings,
hand-grenade attacks, verbal abuse, threats, robbery and black mail.
These acts have forced more and more people to flee their homes.

The Belgian teams of the international medical relief agency Médecins
Sans Frontières (MSF), in charge of medical and mental health programmes
in the enclaves, are eyewitnesses to the daily harassment and terror
against the Serb minorities in Vushtrri/Vuãitrn and Skenderaj/Srbica as
well as the Albanian minority in North Mitrovica. This ongoing violence
is resulting in a forced ethnic homogenisation.

MSF refuses to be either a passive accomplice to this process or remain
silent about the lack of efficient action by the international
community.

MSF questions the appropriateness of humanitarian medical and
psychological assistance when, in the presence of internationally
mandated protection forces, the fundamental rights of people are being
denied.

The Belgian section of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has decided to
call back its teams and to stop its present operations in the Kosovar
enclaves. The humanitarian organisation refuses to continue its
operations on behalf of the ethnic minorities in a context where basic
protection for these populations is not being guaranteed by the military
and civilian administration of Kosovo.

MSF can no longer tolerate the serious and continuous deterioration of
living conditions of the ethnic minorities in Kosovo.

MSF has been working in Kosovo since 1993. Since June 2000, MSF medical
teams have been providing home-based care to Kosovar-Albanian,
Kosovar-Bosnian and Kosovar-Turkish families in several areas of North
Mitrovica. Team members have documented numerous cases of physical
threats and acts of intimidation. MSF teams in the Serb enclaves of the
Vushtrri/Vuãitrn and Skenderaj/Srbica districts have also documented the
violent harassment which the Serb habitants of various regions are
subjected.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MSF has been working in Kosovo since 1993.

Since June 2000, MSF medical teams have been providing home-based care
to Kosovar-Albanian, Kosovar-Bosnian and Kosovar-Turkish families in
several areas of North Mitrovica. Team members have documented numerous
cases of physical threats and acts of intimidation.

MSF teams in the Serb enclaves of the Vushtrri/Vuãitrn and
Skenderaj/Srbica districts have also documented the violent harassment
which the Serb habitants of various regions are subjected.


THE INDEPENDENT (London)

UN 'has failed Kosovo minorities'

By Christian Jennings in Pristina

17 August 2000

The inability of the United Nations and Nato in Kosovo to
ensure security for ethnic minorities was slammed yesterday
by the very humanitarian organisation that was co-founded by
Dr Bernard Kouchner, the UN's civil administrator in the
province.

James Orbinski, the president of the international branch of
Médecins sans Frontières, (MSF) the leading international
emergency medical aid organisation, criticised as "ineffective"
the efforts by Nato peacekeepers and UN civilian police to
ensure protection and security for ethnic minorities living in
enclaves in Kosovo.

"The action of the international community in Kosovo is
ineffective," said Dr Orbinski. "There is no true environment of
security, there exists a climate of impunity. There has been no
systematic and effective response to violence."

With daily incidences of violence, harassment, arson and
intimidation against Kosovo's predominantly Serb minorities,
MSF said that there had been no proactive response from the
UN and NATO's 43,000-strong Kosovo mission, or K-FOR, to
create a climate where people feel secure.

"From a medical perspective, we couldn't remain providing
medical care for people whose most significant complaint is
profound and legitimate fear," he said.

Dr Orbinski's criticisms of the UN and Nato mission came as
reinforcement to a decision taken last week by MSF's Belgian
section to suspend operations in Serbian enclaves in the north
of Kosovo.

The harsh critique from MSF, awarded the Nobel peace prize in
1999, is likely to provoke an already embattled Bernard
Kouchner, who on Sunday announced that his mandate as civil
administrator had been extended until July 2001.

"MSF and Bernard Kouchner split over differences of approach
to humanitarian action," said Dr Orbinski. "He's taken a political
path, we've taken a humanitarian one."

Dr Kouchner split from the Red Cross in Biafra in the early
Seventies to found MSF.

A UN spokeswoman, Susan Manuel, said: "The
preponderance of Nato troops in Kosovo is deployed in the
protection of minorities. We need groups like MSF to assist
people in enclaves."

More than 200,000 Serbs have fled ethnic Albanian reprisals in
Kosovo since Nato and the UN entered the province in June
last year to put an end to Serb oppression of Kosovan
Albanians.

* Seven Belgian peacekeepers were taken prisoner on the
Kosovo border by Serb police and held for 15 hours on
Tuesday, the Belgian army said yesterday.

Two Serb police officers stopped the Belgian patrol as it
accompanied a UN vehicle, saying it had strayed over the
security boundary between Kosovo and Serb-controlled
territory, the Belgian army spokesman, Major Jacques De
Coninck, said.


THE GUARDIAN (London)

Serb killings 'exaggerated' by west

Claims of up to 100,000 ethnic Albanians massacred in Kosovo
revised to under 3,000 as exhumations near end

Special report: Kosovo

Jonathan Steele

Friday August 18, 2000

The final toll of civilians confirmed massacred by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo is
likely to be under 3,000, far short of the numbers claimed by Nato governments
during last year's controversial air strikes on Yugoslavia.

As war crimes experts from Britain and other countries prepare to wind down the
exhumation of hundreds of graves in Kosovo on behalf of the UN's International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague, officials concede
they have not borne out the worst wartime reports. These were given by
refugees and repeated by western government spokesmen during the
campaign. They talked of indiscriminate killings and as many as 100,000
civilians missing or taken out of refugee columns by the Serbs.

The fact that far fewer Kosovo Albanians were massacred than suggested by
Nato will raise sharp questions about the organisation's handling of the media
and its information strategy.

However, commentators yesterday stressed that the new details should not
obscure the fact that the major war crime in the tribunal's indictment of the
Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, and four other Serb officials is the
ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of
people.

"The point is did we successfully pre-empt or not," Mark Laity, the acting Nato
spokesman, said last night. "I think the evidence shows we did. We would rather
be criticised for overestimating the numbers who died than for failing to
pre-empt. Any objective analysis would say there was a clear crisis. There was
indiscriminate killing. There were attempts to clear hundreds of thousands of
people out of their homes."

When Yugoslav forces withdrew from Kosovo in June last year, Nato spokesmen
estimated that the Serbs had killed at least 10,000 civilians. While the
bombing was under way William Cohen, the US defence secretary, announced
that 100,000 Kosovo Albanian men of military age were missing after being
taken from columns of families being deported to Albania and Macedonia.
"They may have been murdered," he said. The fear was they might share the
fate of the men who were separated from their wives and children and
executed when Serb forces overran the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia.

But while some 7,000 Bosnian Muslims died in the week-long Srebrenica
massacre in 1995, less than 3,000 Kosovo Albanian murder victims have been
discovered in the whole of Kosovo. "The final number of bodies uncovered will
be less than 10,000 and probably more accurately determined as between two
and three thousand," Paul Risley, the Hague tribunal's press spokesman, said
yesterday.

In three months of digging this summer, the tribunal's international forensic
experts found 680 bodies at 150 sites. This was in addition to the 2,108 bodies
found at 195 sites last year before exhumations were called off because of
winter frosts. "By October we expect to have enough evidence to end the
exhumations by foreign teams, and they will not be necessary next year," Mr
Risley added.

Although the tribunal has received reports of another 350 suspected grave sites,
it believes the cost and effort of uncovering them would not be justified. Some
suspicious mounds or patches of rough earth in fields where villagers reported a
foul stench turned out to contain dead animals or to be empty.

When the tribunal's teams reached Kosovo last summer, shortly after the
international peacekeepers, they were given reports of 11,334 people in mass
graves, but the results of its exhumations fall well short of that number.
In a few
cases, such as the Trepca mine where hundreds of bodies were alleged to have
been flung down shafts or incinerated, they found nothing at all.

The tribunal's indictment of President Milosevic includes the charge that during
Nato's bombing campaign Serb police shot 105 ethnic Albanian men and boys
near the village of Mala Krusa in western Kosovo. Witnesses claimed hay was
piled on the bodies and set alight. Tribunal experts believe the remains may
have been tampered with later, since the bones of only a few people were
found.

Motives questioned

The exhumation of less than 3,000 bodies is sure to add fuel to those who say
Nato's intervention against Yugoslavia was not "humanitarian" and that it had
other motives such as maintaining its credibility in a post-cold war world.
Others say Nato's air strikes revealed a grotesque double standard since western
governments did nothing when hundreds of thousands were being massacred in
Rwanda.

Carla del Ponte, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, told the UN security council:
"Our task is not to prepare a complete list of war casualties. Our primary
task is to gather evidence relevant to criminal charges."

Evidence of the forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of people was
overwhelming before the tribunal gained access to Kosovo but the
exhumations are aimed at finding evidence for the charges of mass murder.

"Their benefit is to link forensic evidence to particular units of the
police and army operating in particular parts of Kosovo. It wasn't a case of rogue
units. The Serbian police state was fully involved," Mr Risley said. But officials will
not say how many of the 2,788 bodies exhumed show clear signs of being victims of
summary execution such as being shot in the head from close range.

No Nato government has sought to produce a definitive total of murdered
ethnic Albanian civilians since the Serb offensives began in March 1998, a
year before the bombing. "No one is interested," complained a senior
international official in Kosovo involved in helping victims' families. "Nato
doesn't want to admit the damage wasn't as extensive as it said. Local
Albanian politicians have the same motive. If you don't have the true figure,
you can exploit the issue."


REUTERS

Nine Serb Children Wounded In Kosovo Grenade Attack

PRISTINA, Aug 19, 2000 -- (Reuters) Nine children were injured in a drive-by
grenade attack on a Serb enclave in Kosovo on Friday night, the NATO-led KFOR
peacekeeping force said.

The attackers threw two grenades at a basketball court in the Obilic area, north of
the capital Pristina, at around 7:50 p.m. (1750 GMT), a spokesman for Kosovo's
British-led central military sector said.

"There were nine injuries. I believe they were all children," Flight Lieutenant Tim
Serrell-Cooke said. "All of them were minor injuries."

A crowd of around 100 Serbs gathered to protest against the attack in the village of
Crkvene Vodice and express anger that KFOR and United Nations police had not
prevented it.

Some members of the crowd threw stones, damaging several UN vehicles, a UN
official said.

The number of protesters declined later in the night, Serrell-Cooke said.

The wounded children, aged between five and 15, were taken to hospital for
treatment but then allowed home for the night, U.N. officials said. Some were likely
to return for more treatment on Saturday.

The attack came on the same day as a bomb blast at a building in central Pristina
which houses the offices of Serbian authorities and political parties of different
ethnic groups. Two people were slightly hurt in that attack.

International authorities took over responsibility for Kosovo in June last year after
NATO's bombing campaign to end Serb repression of the province's ethnic Albanian
majority.

Since then, however, NATO and the UN have struggled to cope with continuing
violence, some of it between ethnic groups and some inflicted by criminals on their
own communities.

SNC INfo Service:

NINE SERB TEENAGERS WOUNDED WHILE PLAYING BASKETBALL

PRISTINA, August 19:

KFOR authorities confirmed on Friday evening that in Crkvene Vodice
village, 10 km west from Pristina nine Serb teenagers (up to 15 years
old) were wounded. According to the British KFOR report two grenades
were thrown from one unindentified vehicle around 19.50 on a basketball
playground where the Serb children were playing.

According to the report of local Serb sources the wounded children are:
Djordje Djordjevic, Vidosava Djordjevic, Vladimir Vojinovic, Bojan
Jovic, Tijana Jovovic, Danijela Stevic, Tamara Markovic, Olivera
Nikolic. The name of the ninth teenager is still not known. The children
were immediately transfered to Kosovo Polje hospital. According to the
witnessess the grenades were thrown from an “Opel Vectra” car with no
registration plates only 20 meters form the nearest KFOR check point.
According to the local sources the vehicle with the attackers managed to
disappear on the road towards the neighboring Albanian village of
Leskovcic. The explosions were so strong that according to the local
Serb witnesses two UNMIK police vehicles were damaged, one KFOR
landrover and three private cars.


Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren

Gracanica Monastery, 19 August 2000

ANOTHER SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH DESTROYED IN KOSOVO

The Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren has just received that the Serb Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity was destroyed near Vucitrn in the village of Velika Reka. The church was vandalized and burned from inside last summer and now it is finally levelled to the ground. The church was built in 1997. The first information which were received were about the church of St. Eliah in Vucitrn but this church is still standing although it remains vandalized and partly burned.

So far the church was guarded by the KFOR soldiers from the United Arabian Emirates. It was also in their area of responsibility that on January 30 the Serb Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas was blown up in the nearby deserted Serb village of Banjska.

The Serbian Orthodox Church strongly condemning this barbarian act of the ethnic Albanian extremists and requests from KFOR to conduct immediate investigation and bring the perpertrators to the justice.

Information Service of the
Diocese of Raska and Prizren


BBC World Service
Saturday, 19 August, 2000, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK

Serb children attacked in Kosovo

International troops on guard after Friday's attacks

Nine Serb children have been injured in a grenade
attack in Kosovo.

A spokesman for the international peacekeeping force,
K-For, said two grenades were thrown on Friday from a
passing car onto a basketball court in the village of
Crkvena Vodica, 10km (seven miles) north of the
capital, Pristina.

The children, who were lightly wounded, were taken to a
Russian military hospital in the nearby town of Kosovo
Polje, and later sent home.

Dozens of local people shouted angrily at K-For troops
when they arrived to investigate the incident, which a
K-For spokesman described as "particularly cowardly".

'Attack on Yugoslav influence'

Earlier on Friday, an explosion went off in Pristina
behind a building run by the European security
organisation, the OSCE.

It damaged the offices of Serb, ethnic Albanian and
other political parties housed there, and injured a
woman.

There was no immediate indication of who was to
blame, but the head of the UN mission in Kosovo,
Bernard Kouchner, visited the scene soon after the
explosion and said he believed it was the work of
"enemies of democracy".

Elections are due in Kosovo in October.

However, officials in Belgrade claimed that the attack
was aimed at their delegation's offices and was part of
an attempt to wipe out Yugoslav influence in Kosovo.

A province of Yugoslavia, Kosovo has been administed
by the United Nations since June last year, when the
arrival of K-For ended a civil war between ethnic
Albanian separatists and Yugoslav forces.

The K-For troops have struggled to contain ethnic and
criminal violence in Kosovo, particularly against Serbs
and other minorities, since they took over responsibility.


THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
Saturday, August 19, 2000

Kosovo's Ethnic Albanians Face New Peril--Themselves

By PAUL WATSON, Times Staff Writer

ISTOK, Yugoslavia--They survived Serbian rampages. They lived
through a NATO air war waged in their name. But now some Kosovo
Albanians are being targeted by the very people they had trusted--their
own.

A dirty war among ethnic Albanian political parties has been escalating
for nearly a year. And foreign peacekeeping troops and police, citing a lack
of cooperation from witnesses, have done little to stop it.

It was easy for the men who came to kill Shaban Manaj. They called at his
house in this western Kosovo town and said they needed a lawyer to
defend a man in jail on a minor charge. The ethnic Albanian politician
climbed into the front passenger seat of their red BMW and was never seen
alive again.

Spanish peacekeeping troops found his body Aug. 5 in the almost
deserted village of Ozrim, about nine miles from where the two ethnic
Albanians had kidnapped him 10 days earlier.

Manaj founded the local branch of the moderate Democratic League of
Kosovo in 1990 when its pacifist leader, Ibrahim Rugova, began the painful
struggle for independence from Yugoslavia. Serbian police arrested Manaj
several times over the years to try to silence him.

The ethnic Albanian thugs succeeded where the Serbs failed. They
dumped Manaj's body in a ditch and set fire to it, just as Serbian war
criminals had done to many of their ethnic Albanian victims.

"It is very difficult," Manaj's elder brother, Tahir, said, trying to
understand how it has come to this. "What makes it more difficult is the
burning of the body. After all that, how could he be burned?"

Manaj was one of at least five local leaders of Rugova's party attacked in
recent days, victims of political violence that has spread since last year
across Kosovo, a separatist province of Serbia, the dominant of
Yugoslavia's two republics.

In one of the most recent incidents under investigation, the wife of one of
Rugova's party officials was killed in an explosion at her home in the
southern Kosovo town of Dragas on Aug. 9.

Other political parties say their members have been targeted too, but
Rugova's supporters are suffering the most, according to U.N. police
reports.

Moderate Party Ahead in Run-Up to Vote

Rugova's popularity, and credibility, dropped sharply after he met with
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at the height of NATO's airstrikes
last year, yet polls still show his party leading in the run-up to elections set
for Oct. 28.

Long before NATO got involved in Kosovo--spending millions of dollars
and dropping thousands of bombs to protect ethnic Albanians from a
vicious Serbian crackdown--the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army had
called Rugova and his party traitors because they insisted on peaceful
protest against Serbian rule. His perceived willingness to compromise also
makes him a target for radicals.

Hashim Thaci, who became political chief of the KLA with strong support
from Washington, now has his own party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo.
The party is Rugova's main opposition, and U.N. police are looking at
Thaci's supporters as potential suspects in the political bloodshed.

At least some of Thaci's supporters have been under suspicion since
November, when men dressed in black who said they were acting on orders
from his "Ministry of Order" kidnapped and viciously beat Sinan Gashi, a
leader of Rugova's party in Glogovac, a pro-Thaci town.

Two days earlier, men in black uniforms claiming to be police led another
of Rugova's local party leaders, Haki Imeri, 52, from his home near Srbica,
just down the road from Glogovac. He was later found dead, with four
bullets to the back of the head.

Ramush Haradinaj, once one of Thaci's top commanders in the KLA, is
now one of his biggest political opponents as leader of the Alliance for the
Future of Kosovo, which also is suspected of carrying out political
vendettas.

Haradinaj was wounded July 7 when a rocket-propelled grenade blasted
the car he was in with a relative, a local commander of the Kosovo
Protection Corps. The corps was set up as a civil defense unit to give former
KLA guerrillas new jobs dealing with forest fires and other natural disasters,
but it is struggling to fend off accusations of human rights abuses.

Villager Sadik Musa, a Rugova supporter, admitted firing at Haradinaj's
car but said he was only defending himself after Haradinaj and his men
attacked with automatic rifles.

Both Thaci and Haradinaj have denied any link to political violence, and
they publicly espouse tolerance toward their ethnic Albanian rivals as well
as minorities, such as Serbs.

Haradinaj had a reputation as a ruthless fighter when he commanded
KLA forces in western Kosovo, one of the province's bloodiest
battlegrounds in the KLA's war with the Serbs.

Children Weep Over Father's Casket

When peace came, Manaj's family had to dig his grave in the same soil.

Last week, his coffin stood on the back patio of the home he spent 16
years building, next to a garden lush with apple and plum trees. The casket
was covered with flowers and draped with the Albanian flag, a symbol of
the independence struggle that brought him into Rugova's party a decade
ago.

His five children wept over the casket, all except the youngest, 5-year-old
Fortesa, who sat in the arms of her mother, Fatmushe, 45, not sure what was
happening. With her small finger, she wiped away her mother's tears.

Around a corner of the house, Manaj's cramped office was just as he had
left it. A yellow manual typewriter sat on the desk, next to a pile of carbon
paper and a stack of files. A blue-and-white towel hung from a nail next to
the door.

"From high school to his last day, he was never a materialist," Manaj's
brother said after peering through the locked glass door. "He always worked
for the people--and only the people."

U.N. police say it's difficult to find the perpetrators of Kosovo's
political
killings--or even to come up with suspects--because witnesses either refuse
to cooperate or they change their stories, often after threats. Manaj's
relatives said they had no idea who might have wanted him dead.

"It's very unclear for us," his brother said, weakly shaking his head. "I
can't say."

Blood feuds are not new to Kosovo Albanian politics. Yet, just as Serbs
complained that foreign troops and police were slow in reacting to ethnic
Albanian attacks against them in the wake of the air war, ethnic Albanians
now blame the U.N. for letting political extremists get away with murder.

Last fall, prominent members of Rugova's party were being kidnapped,
assaulted and killed, while party offices were bombed. But Kosovo's U.N.
administrator, Frenchman Bernard Kouchner, set up a special unit to
investigate and punish political crimes only this month.

Randy Ostrander, a police officer from Washington state, is on the front
line of Kosovo's dirty war as commander of the U.N. police in Srbica. About
70,000 people live on his beat in the radical Drenica Valley, birthplace of the
KLA and now a Thaci stronghold.

Of the 15 murders reported to Ostrander's force since he took charge in
September, all but a few--such as the murder of two local Serbs--appear to
be politically motivated, he said.

Ostrander said he is certain that the political violence is organized,
and he
promised: "When the time is right, you're going to see a lot of arrests
coming down."

But he has just 44 officers, seven of them Americans, even though the
U.N.'s plan calls for 100 foreign cops in the Srbica zone, long one of the
most dangerous in Kosovo.

Ostrander knows that U.N. police are likely targets if they arrest people
suspected of ordering and carrying out the political killings. His men have
already found a machine gun in an apartment block overlooking his office
after ethnic Albanians with walkie-talkies were spotted on the building's
roof.

"It's a well-known fact that when people come in here to complain, they
are being watched," Ostrander said in his office Thursday. "These people
have come right out and told us. There are many times when they want to
meet outside the station because they fear that they're going to be targeted
for one reason or another.

"There's been no direct act of violence taken against the [U.N.] civilian
police--yet," Ostrander added. "But that does not mean that will not happen.
Several of my officers from other contingents are nervous. Some are scared,
especially at night.

"They're afraid that if they go out and do a normal traffic stop, the
subjects in the car could be armed with rocket-propelled grenades or
Kalashnikov rifles, and all we have is pistols."

Sejdi Koca, 63, was driving home from Srbica on Aug. 1 when a gunman
opened fire from behind some bushes. A bullet grazed Koca's throat and hit
his right shoulder.

Koca is acting head of Rugova's party branch in Srbica and was a close
colleague of Imeri, the party leader who was killed last year. Like Imeri, Koca
was used to the risks of politics in Kosovo. The Serbs burned his house
twice during offensives, in the fall of 1998 and the spring of 1999, and he
was also kidnapped for seven days by KLA fighters.

"This is much more painful because, from childhood, we knew who the
Serbs were and could never expect anything good from them," Koca said as
he reclined on a cushion in his sitting room. "But we never expected we
[Albanians] could do this to ourselves."

Koca thinks that the intelligence service of neighboring Albania has a
hand in Kosovo's bloodletting, and he accused Thaci of doing too little to
stop it. But Koca is still determined to run for election to Srbica's council in
October.

He didn't surrender to the Serbs, he said, and isn't about to give in to
thugs among his own people.

"But our members are a little bit scared because the people had only one
cause: to be freed from Serbia. This black evil, they never imagined," Koca
said. "The population, in general, is not ready to fight this."


THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE
August 20, 2000

The View From the Bridge

In Kosovo, in the city of Mitrovica, the Ibar River maintains
a fragile peace -- keeping Serbs and Albanians from each
other's throats. Photographs by PAOLO PELLEGRIN Text by GUY LAWSON

Slide Show
The View from the Bridge (6 photos)
http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20000820mag-kosovo.1.html

 

The Ibar River runs across the high plains
of Kosovo and passes slowly under the five bridges of Mitrovica.
Here, more than a year after international peacekeepers arrived in the
province, the United Nations has turned the narrow, dirty brown meander
of the Ibar into a border: south is the Albanian side of town, north, the
Serbian. Before the war, Albanians and Serbs lived in neighborhoods
scattered on both sides of the river, and citizens were free to move back
and forth over the Ibar. But the aftermath of war and a fragile peace have
brought a new and segregated reality to the divided city. North of the
river, north of Mitrovica, the farms and villages are almost exclusively
Serbian, and yet farther north lies Serbia itself; the river is the frontier,
and a symbol for both sides of the claims and counterclaims to land and
history and belonging. And now, in Mitrovica, the purpose of the bridges
spanning the river has been inverted; the tumbles of razor wire and the
armed checkpoints and the idling tanks of international peacekeepers are
positioned to make sure the Ibar is not crossed.

Still, the U.N. is desperate to create the appearance of reconciliation and
to try to find a way to persuade the antagonists to live together once
again. To this end, it has declared a short stretch of the Ibar a "zone of
confidence." Inside the zone, on the Serbian side of the river, there are
pockets where Albanians and Serbs live side by side. Within one of these
enclaves, in the middle of the zone, is a set of run-down 11-story
apartment towers. Their population is mixed, three-quarters Albanian and
one-quarter Serbian. Directly in front of the towers is a small footbridge,
one of two that the peacekeepers have built to allow the Albanians in the
north to cross to the south in order to work, shop or visit friends without
having to walk through Serb-dominated streets. Before the footbridges
were constructed, when Mitrovica had only three permanent crossings,
Albanian residents needed to be escorted by tank to the main bridge.

The towers are separated from the rest of the Serbian side by razor wire,
and tanks and armed personnel carriers roar by night and day; there are
troops bivouacked in the courtyard and soldiers patrolling the hallways.
No one can enter the towers without handing over an identity card to the
guard at the door, and no guests are allowed. The U.N.-issued cards
record name and date of birth but not the one essential fact of life in
Kosovo -- ethnic identity.

Most afternoons this summer, half a dozen Albanian teenage boys who
live in the towers could be found playing basketball at a hoop next to a
sand bunker. One day in June, the boys pointed to a cluster of Serb
teenagers hanging out on the far side of the razor wire. The physical
differences between Serbs and Albanians are small, invisible even, but
everyone I spoke to in Mitrovica claimed they could recognize the other
at a glance; it was impossible to describe how; they just knew. The Serbs
across the way were at a kiosk with the Serbian national flag hanging on
the side, and they sold Serbian nationalist trinkets: bottle openers, key
chains, daggers. The Albanian boys told me that it was a deliberate
provocation and that they would never do such a thing. "We are good,"
they said. "We are not Serbian."

At 5 o'clock each afternoon the streets on the north side of the Ibar were
blocked by Serbs to protest what they called the continuing campaign
of terror against them, and the Albanian kids were forced to go indoors;
the sight of an Albanian, any Albanian, might ignite a riot.

Inside the towers, Serbs and Albanians who have known each other for
years nodded greetings and then quickly retreated behind
steel-reinforced doors. Many of the residents had taken to drinking, and
men and women without work slept the days away; all said that it was a
bad life, that it was no life at all. The state of enforced ethnic civility and
coexistence between neighbors was fragile and didn't extend to outsiders.
When I took a Serbian translator to the three towers, hoping to talk to
some of the Serbian families living there, the Albanian boys gathered
close in and stared at him with frank and furious hatred. "He is Serbian?"
the boys asked.

In the rest of Kosovo the killing goes on, now mainly Albanians murdering
Serbs. Mitrovica is tranquil for the most part, though, if calm is measured
by a day going by without a death. On the Albanian side of the river, the
streets teem with the clamor of reconstruction and victory and newly found
liberty. On the Serbian side, in another city altogether, the temper turns
sullen and angry and oppressive. Staring out from behind sunglasses in
bombed-out storefronts and abandoned apartments, Serbian men maintain
a constant vigil over the bridges. The bridgekeepers, as they are known,
are lean and hard and suspicious. Serbian men dressed in civilian clothes
but with military bearing, they are the vanguard of the organization that
has appointed itself to protect against any Albanian invasion, no matter
how unlikely with the overwhelming force of foreign troops and the
strict rules limiting movement in the zone.

The Dolce Vita is opposite the main bridge on
the Serbian side, a small bar with its curtains drawn and bridgekeepers
drinking slivovitz and Santana playing on the stereo. "I don't hate all
Albanians," one bridgekeeper told me quietly, so the other Serbian men
couldn't hear him; Serbs and Albanians have to find a way to live
together, there is no choice. He fled from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo,
the week before, forced from his home at gunpoint by an Albanian man,
he said, and he had a wartime look in his eyes: scared and tired and
confused and defiant and desperate for some kind of escape. He smoked
four packs of cigarettes a day and drank slivovitz from a plastic jug. He
said he hated only one Albanian, the man who killed his brother, and he
went on to say that he had once lived with an Albanian girlfriend.

We wandered through the streets on the Serbian side of town, and he
told me that the thing he didn't understand was why the world was
treating the Serbs so badly; there was good and evil on both sides. But
as we walked, every third or fourth house we passed had been torched
and looted by Serbs before NATO came into Kosovo a year earlier. "I
mean, I understand," he said at the sight of the wreckage and fell silent.

The next day the bridgekeeper was in the Dolce Vita, and he told me he
had been up all night drinking and singing Serbian nationalist songs. He
was pale and sweating, and his voice was raw. Outside, there were a few
people sitting on the park benches that had been arranged along the Ibar,
next to freshly planted flower beds, stage props installed by the U.N. to
create the semblance of normal life. The elderly Serbian men and women
on the benches sat with their backs turned to the river and the Albanian
side of town.

In "The Three-Arched Bridge," the Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare's tale
of the arrival of Islam in the Balkans in the 14th century, the central
metaphor is a bridge spanning fate and fable and the fear of the unknown.
Now, in Mitrovica, the idea of the outsider has been reduced to hatred
and revenge and a river with a divide both narrow and vast. Inside the
Dolce Vita, the bridgekeeper leaned forward and whispered that he had
found a way out of the city. Trapped in his own skin, in the middle of a
war that has continued in spirit and spite even as it was supposed to have
ended, he told me a fantastic tale of an important mission and a
rendezvous with a secret service agent of a foreign country. He was
going to be spirited off to another land, he said, far, far away.

"They're going to give me a new identity," he said, and he smiled a
half-crazy, drunken smile.


Blic, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
August 23, 2000

Unknown attackers empty whole magazine at Nedeljkovic minors

Serb children again targeted

PRISTINA - Unknown attackers opened fire two nights ago at 7:30 p.m. at Serb children in the village of Staro Gracko near Lipljan. After the bomb attack in Crkvene Vodice, this is the second attack on
Serb children in Kosovo.

An unknown attacker fired a shot from a pistol at three children in the yard of the Nedeljkovic family in Starko Gracko. The bullet missed Milos Nedeljkovic (16) who was in the yard with his sisters, ages 4
and 17 years. After emptying a whole magazine of ammunition from the moving vehicle, a red “Opel Ascona”, the terrorists fled toward the Albanian village of Veliki Alas.

After the incident one UN policeman accompanied by three Kosovo policemen appeared on the scene from where they headed in a search toward Alas. UNMIK folice failed to provide details yesterday
regarding this attack.

The Yugoslav Center for the Rights of the Child expressed its deep concern because 14 months after the deployment of KFOR and UNMIK in Kosovo, the most elementary security of the non-Albanian
population has not been ensured, it said in its protest addressed today to the international mission in the Province.

“The most recent in a series of events, when a bomb explosion in the village of Crkvena Vodica near Obilic caused serious and light injuries to fifteen children of Serb nationality while they were playing,
confirms that essential measures for the protection of the lives of the residents and the children were not taken,” it is said in the statement.

E.B.

Translated by S. Lazovic (August 22, 2000