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Updated: 24 September 1999 Press Conferences

Pristina,
Kosovo

24 Sept. 1999

KFOR Press Update

by Major Ole Irgens, KFOR Spokesman

KFOR troops are still making a considerable effort in clearing Kosovo for mines and unexploded ordnance. During the last couple of weeks, 700 cluster bombs, or bomblets, have been destroyed. 4.000 bomblets have been cleared so far, from an estimated total of 14.000.

KFOR is also making good efforts in marking off suspected mine areas and and in conducting mine awareness training. Our engineers are focussing on unexploded cluster bomblets, and next week, KPC candidates will join KFOR in the efforts of marking contaminated areas.

And I would like to repeat the warning: Never, ever touch items that you suspect could be mines, bomblets, ammunitions or other ordnance. An example of how you should NOT do it follows: Yesterday, a workman at the monastery in Gracanica handed KFOR troops an unexploded cluster bomb. The workman had discovered the bomb in a field by the monastery and brought it on his tractor's trailer to show the troops what he had found. The bomb was dealt with by British KFOR soldiers, and fortunately, no-one was injured.

So: If you find such items, leave them where they are, and alert KFOR. Touching such devices can be extremely dangerous, so leave them alone.

The transformation process of the former UCK is progressing. Already, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) registered 11.000 individuals seeking information, counseling and referral services. Seven field offices have identified opportunities to place members in a variety of sectors, like carpenter apprentices, pharmacy assistants, factory workers, traffic wardens, applicants for scholarships, community infrastructure repairs. The application phase for the standup of the Kosovo Protection Corps is ongoing. In the first three days, the IOM conducted 700 interviews and approximately 300 candidates have so far applied for joining the KPC.

The Norwegian officer, who has been held in custody in FYROM, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the last weeks, was released yesterday at 19:00 hrs and handed over to Norwegian authorities. The officer was the driver of a vehicle involved in a road traffic accident, where a FYROM minister, his wife, son and his driver was killed.


So, for a round-up of the last events from the Multinational Brigades:

First an incident from Multinational Brigade Centre: The elderly Serb man who was hurt in a grenade attack in Lipljan Wednesday night, and reported to be in a critical condition, died yesterday in the field hospital in Lipljan. His wife remains in a stable condition. The situation in the city is reported calm, and KFOR remains a heavy presence in the town. Yesterday, the commanding officer met with locals where they were able to express their feelings and concerns. A further meeting is planned for the next week.

An illegal vehicle checkpoint was discovered by KFOR soldiers 8 km north of Pristina this night. Three Albanians manning the checkpoint said they had KFOR authorization to carry out logging
operations. However, investigation by UNMIK revealed that this claim was not founded. The men have been detained and the investigation continues.

An AK-47 assault rifle was handed in during a search operation in Mitrovica, Multinational Brigade North, yesterday. In another KFOR search, three AK 47s, one pistol and ammunition were confiscated yesterday morning. Three men were arrested.

KFOR troops are continuing their search for illegal weapons across all areas of operations. All weapons found will be confiscated and subsequently destroyed.

A member of the International Catholic Migration Commission was killed in a car accident
near Decane, in Multinational Brigade West, yesterday afternoon. Another passenger in the car was badly injured and medevaced to Pristina hospital. No KFOR vehicles were involved.

At 2145 hrs yesterday an Armored Fighting Vehicle rolled over in Kulina, wounding three Italian KFOR personnel, one of them seriously. He was taken to Banja hospital, and will probably be transported to Italy today. His life is said not to be in danger.

Two Albanian men were arrested for setting up an illegal checkpoint at 21:15 hrs yesterday in the Pec area. They were arrested by KFOR Military Police.

Two looters were arrested in Multinational Brigade South, southeast of Prizren yesterday. They were handed over to KFOR Military Police.

Following a complaint of harassing a Roma, KFOR troops arrested one person and confiscated his weapon.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

So, for some media opportunities:
Media are invited to see the arrival of the "train for life", tomorrow the 25th of September, when it is coming in to Kosovo - Polje railway station. The train left UK on 16th of September and has passed London - Berlin - Prague - Bratislava - Budapest - Bucharest and will pass Sofia - Thessaloniki - Skopje before arrival at 11 o'clock on Saturday.

During the trip the train has picked up aid and is no consisting of three locomotives and 14 wagons. The locomotives will be used to deliver aid for Kosovo by rail from FYROM and will thereby increase the transport capacity of aid at an important time, prior to the winter. The train will be geeted by Deputy Commander KFOR.

There will be a press conference with NATO Secretary-general, Dr Javier Solana, on Monday, September 27 at 09:30 hrs, here in the Press Centre. This will be Dr Solana's last visit to the Balkans as NATO Secretary-general.

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