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Updated: 9 August 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

6 August 1999

KFOR Press Briefing

by KFOR Spokesperson, Major Jan Joosten

  • Yesterday in MNB North a patrol heard an explosion in the western part of Mitrovica. After an investigation, it was determined to be a rocket propelled grenade fired into the city, hitting an unoccupied house. There were no casualties.

  • In Urosevac (MNB East) at 2200 yesterday, KFOR soldiers were protecting a Serb house. An unknown number of people attempted to attack the house and an exchange of fire took place between them and KFOR troops. The attackers then fled away in a white Zesta station wagon. An Apache helicopter was dispatched, following the car as it sped toward Pristina. As it left Urosevac, a white Mercedes Benz joined the Zesta en route to Pristina. MNB Centre assisted MNB East by apprehending one severely wounded person at the Pristina Hospital and the Zesta. The investigation, and the search for the Mercedes Benz, are still ongoing.

  • Also in MNB East a checkpoint at Koretin 12 km North East of Gnjilane came under small arms fire when a vehicle ran into it. The soldiers returned fire. Two other checkpoints in Kamenica and Koretin came under small arms fire as well. 6 illumination rounds were fired to assist the Russians to locate the aggressors. The attackers fled and no arrests were made. During the incidents one Russian soldier was wounded in the left thigh and evacuated to the military hospital in Camp Bondsteel.


  • At 21:05 in MNB Centre, soldiers heard a grenade explosion at Lipljan. The attackers fled in a green Audi. Soldiers at a vehicle checkpoint recognized the vehicle and subsequently (at 23:30) they apprehended 5 suspects in the town of Velika Donbraja.

  • Again in MNB Centre, KFOR received a message that a bomb was placed in the Grand Hotel in Pristina. The building was cleared of all occupants and an Explosive and Ordnance team conducted a search. At 04:20 the team determined that the building was safe and allowed the occupants to return.

  • In MNB South at 00:20, Albanians had cut off the power in Prizren and its surrounding area. They expect a resumption of power by 12:00 today.

  • Also in MNB South, at 21:56 and 22:24 shots were fired over the top of a checkpoint 2 km West of Prizren. KFOR soldiers stopped two cars at 22:37. They searched the cars and found 5 AK 47, 1 rifle and ammunition. Subsequently the 8 Albanian occupants were arrested.


  • In MNB West at the end of a two-day search and control operation in the area of Djakovila, Italian KFOR confiscated 11 rifles, 3 pistols, 1 artillery shell, 3400 rounds, one anti-tank rocket and 11 hand grenades.

  • Early this morning, a KFOR patrol came under fire near Pec. They identified the origin of the fire and arrested a man. There were no casualties.

  • Also in MNB West, shots were fired near a checkpoint in Dakovica. A cordon and search operation was conducted and a further two shots were heard from a house. The house was searched and an AK-47, a rifle and a hand grenade were found and confiscated. The occupant of the house was arrested.

  • KFOR is concerned about the current attacks against its soldiers and people are to be reminded that our soldiers have robust rules of engagement and have the right to defend themselves.

  • Yesterday, in MNB (West), 108 Serbs returned to their homes in Gorazdevac from Belgrade. There are now approximately 600 Serbs living in Gorazdevac.

  • In MNB East in Stripje, US KFOR soldiers are mediating a meeting between Albanians and Serbs to discuss how to improve relations and other ways to rebuild the infra structure in the surrounding area.

  • In the MNB N area Danish forces are now operating in the area of ZUBIN POTOK. (250) West of Mitrovica. That brings the total number of troops in Kosovo to approximately 38000, coming from 21 different countries.

Question: Maj Joosten, you mentioned a whole series of incidents, mainly attacks on KFOR patrols, or troops that were guarding certain areas, but only one or 2 incidences did you identify the aggressors, as you identified them you said Albanians in a couple of cases but what about the other attacks can you be a little more specific as to who the perpetrators were and why this happened?

Answer from Maj Joosten: If I haven't mentioned the ethnicity then I cannot give you any further details at this moment. Certainly if we didn't catch anyone then it is difficult to determine who they actually were.

Question from AP Television: I was in the Grand Hotel last night and I, nor a few people around me were woken up. I was wondering who was throwing people out of the hotel? What is the problem, all of a sudden, with the phones and power, why has it gotten so bad in the last couple of days? Are there KFOR or UN engineers trying to get it going again?

Answer from Maj Joosten: That is an interesting observation you made. There may be a difference between the media being present in the hotel and other guests, I really don't know, this is a report that I received from MNB(Central) but I assure you of my intent to check out why they left the media in the hotel. I must say that I saw a slide yesterday trying to explain to me what the problem is, there are several cuts in the lines. I believe there is a more intensive briefing following this issue. Especially the power issue. It is quite complicated, something went down and they are trying to start up the generator again and I am sure that we can get you a little more information, but not at this stage because it is too complicated to explain in only a few words.

Answer from Nadia Younes: Let me just jump in. One of the aspects that I understand it was, payment that had to be made of diesel fuel for the power plant. I believe that UNMIK did write out the cheque yesterday but I do not know if it made any difference, but I believe we did make out a cheque for the diesel fuel. Although I do know that this is not the only problem.

Question from Associated Press: The incidents around the 3 check points in MNB(East) that you mentioned. Were those all Russian Soldier Check points? The weapons that were found, I think that you might have miss stated because what I heard was 43,400 rounds of ammunition? Can you repeat those figure because I didn't get them all? You mentioned that there are talks with the Serb representatives of the council on getting them involved with the next meeting, but is that the main stumbling block right now to get this meeting going? Is it the Serb participation, and what is the reason?

Answer from Maj Joosten: They were all Russian Soldier Check points, yes. No there was 3,400 round of ammunition, sorry. There were 11 Rifles, 3 pistols, 1 Artillery Grenade, 3,400 to say it correctly of ammunition, one Anti tank weapon and 11 grenades.

Answer from Nadia Younes: No, if it appeared that it is a stumbling block, it was not my intention. I think that once the 2 of the parties have agreed to the resumption of the council meetings we had to get everyone else on board for the dates for the attendance etc. I think we all know that the Serbs have had a few problems because of the security situation but we are hopeful that they will come on board. It is not a stumbling block but a process of consultation with all the other members of the commission.

Question from AFP: All these incidents that are happening. Do they seem to suggest that there is a increasing amount of violence against the peacekeepers in the region or are we especially, the US and Russians being targetted? We thought that before the US had a fairly soft area, but it is not turning out that way at all. The council that will be meeting, you mentioned the composition before, are there any changes to that composition? The council as we understood was supposed to be a consultative body, is that now being looked at to become some sort of executive organ of UNMIK?

Answer from Maj Joosten: First of all there has always been some tension in the US Sector. What I am trying to explain is that we are generally concerned about the current attacks because if you had listened to my statement you would have found out that in MNB(West) attacks happened. So we are generally concerned and will take whatever measure necessary to protect our soldiers and clearly we are also determined to create a safe and secure environment and maintain law and order.

Answer from Nadia Younes: On the second part of your question. The council is an advisory council and the final decision is and rest with the SRSG. However the SRSG has been, in several incidents, when he has spoken to the press, expressed a hope the it could eventually down the line assume executive powers but we are not there yet. The council is an advisory body to the SRSG and the decision is finally his. As you know when the council met the first time it was obvious that the question of the composition of the council was not something that had been written in stone. There are talks on the way now with the various bodies of the re-alignment of the composition of the council.

Question from James Pringle of the Times: This is fairly similar to the last question but it seems that as the murders at Gracko 2 weeks ago it appears that the security situation has deteriorated across Kosovo. Do you agree with that and is this not the opposite of what we should expect with more KFOR Troops coming in all the time? Have the aggressors, as you referred to them, tested the metal of KFOR and found it wanting in some way? How do you account for this deterioration in security when the reverses should happen?

Answer from Maj Joosten: I do not agree with that, for example yesterday during the day we saw a day with absolutely not incidents happened. So clearly we see a decrease of incidents instead of a flair up of incidents. Generally speaking, I can say that the general security is getting better and better everyday but clearly there are still some problems and we are still looking forward to the arrival of the International Police so that we can work together to bringing those criminal activities to an acceptable level.

Question from BBC: Do you have anymore information about the incident about 2 days ago in the US Sector when approximately 1000 Albanians were moving towards Kamonica and 2 Apache helicopters were called in and fired illumination rounds and there was no more information than that?

Answer from Maj Joosten: The information that I got last night, and that was late information from the US Sector. Apparently it was group of 100 as opposed to 1000 Albanians and the reason for their march towards Kamonica was that they wanted to protest against the presence of the Russian forces in that area.

Question from the NY Times: Has there been an increase lately on attacks on KFOR for whatever reason, I think that is the simplest way to ask it? Is there any truth, as far as you know to the charge by Goran Matic in Belgrade that the people who did the killings in Gracko were wearing British KFOR uniforms?

Answer from Maj Joosten: Let me answer your first question. So far generally speaking during the whole period we had about 30 incidents where KFOR Soldiers were involved. There is a slight increase, as I said today, there were numerous fire incidents with KFOR Forces and I have already explained we are extremely concerned about that. Coming back to your 2nd question, those allegations are completely without foundation. During the course of the investigation, carried out by the KFOR Military Police, no individual has offered this information, neither any British Uniform have been found in the searches conducted after the murders. We also refute the suggestion that British members of KFOR have provided the UCK with any uniforms, vehicle or military equipment. I would invite Mr Matic, if he has any concrete evidence to share this information with us. Having said that he can go to every KFOR Post and give this information in confidence. We would be very grateful for that.

Question: I was told yesterday by an Albanian community leader that an agreement had been reached between the provisional government and UNMIK. The provisional government that had started collecting taxes from the population as of Monday, can you confirm that?

Answer from Nadia Younes: No I can't confirm that because I don't think that we are there yet. I think that there are still discussions at the level of UNMIK but I don't think that we have anything to announce on that yet.

 

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