Updated: 9 August 1999 KFOR Press Updates


9 August 1999

KFOR Press Conference

by KFOR Spokesperson, Major Roland Lavoie

  • The overall situation security situation across the Province was relatively quiet yesterday, although several incidents were reported in the Pristina area:

  • In separate attacks, two Serb women were shot in their homes. One has been transported to Pristina hospital for treatment and the other is receiving care from the MNB (Centre) field hospital near the university

  • At 19:00, a Serb man was discovered with stab wounds and was transported to MNB (Centre) Field Hospital.

  • At 21:34, two grenades were thrown at a house in the downtown area but only one exploded. The blast injured a 10-year lod Albanian girl, who has been transported to the Pristina hospital. KFOR troops secured the area and are currently investigating.

  • At 21:45 the body of a man was found on the top of a building. He had been beaten to death, the police are investigating.
    These attacks are currently under investigation and no effort will be spared to track and arrest those who committed these cowardly crimes. We urge the population, and especially those with influence on the behaviour of others and the media, to condemn these crimes without reference to the ethnic background of the victims or aggressors.

  • Following grenade attacks were reported over the last few weeks in the Lipjan area, KFOR troops arrested 10 people. Several houses were searched and a number of grenades and uniforms were confiscated. In a separate law and order operation, KFOR British troops arrested 26 people for various offences and 8 of them remain detained while investigations continue.
    KFOR is determined to pursue law and order operations in order to allow the population of Kosovo to feel safe again and rebuiled their lives. Althogether 59 arrests were made over the Kosovo theatre of operations in the last 24 hours.

  • Yesterday afternoon in MNB (East), KFOR Russian troops in Kamenica detained two Serbs for carrying weapons.

  • With the arrival of Portugese battalion in Multinational Brigade (West), there are now over 38,000 KFOR troops in the Kosvo theatre of operations. Altogether, if we include support elements based outside Kosovo, KFOR is now over 45,000 men strong, coming from 21 countries.

  • Over the last days, the UN International Police have been carrying out joint patrols with KFOR Military Police in Pristina. KFOR assistance will allow the newly formed UNIP contingent to familirize themselves with the terrain and current situations experienced in Kosovo.

  • Saturday night in Zintinje, Multinational Brigade (East) reported that between 30 and 40 house were burnt. No causualties were reported due to the fact that these houses were vacant when the arsoninsts set fire. An investigation is currently under way.

  • KFOR engineers across all brigades are pursuing their work to clear schools from mines, booby traps and other threats. This will enable shildre to resume classes within few weeks.

  • In MNB (East) Saturday, a KFOR patrol arrested three ethnic Albanian men who were observed in a school near Danje Slakvoce, 13 km west of Gnjilane. The school contained weapons, explosives, grenades and supplies. Three more people were later detained when they arrived at the site with a truckload of supplies allegedly destined to humanitarian purposes. An investigation is currently underway.

  • Saturday in Cernica, 5 km, south-west of Gnjilane, a KFOR patrol conducted another successful house search and seized a small amount of illegal weapons. Three Serb men who were in the house at that time were detained and turned over to the Military Police for further questioning.

  • Yesterday afternoon in MNB (North), a truck carrying 12 French soldiers ran off the the road and rolled over while avoiding an incoming civilian truck. Five soliers were injured and later evacuated to the MNB (North) field hospital in Mitrovica. Latest reports revealed that two of them suffered severe injuries although their lives are not in danger.

  • MNB(West) provides humanitarian assistance to Serb and Albanian population in the area of Gorazdevac. Family packs provided by NGOs and containing food and goods essential for initial emergency needs, are being distributed.

  • Finally, Italian Air Force technicians will build an airport in the Peja area. The structure will consist of a 1500 meter long runway, which will enable the landing of military cargo aircraft. 200 technicians and heavy construction equipment are arriving in Kosovo through Tessaloniki. The work is due to start in mid-August and will be completed before winter. The airport will facilitate logistic support of the Italian contingent and will also contribute the economy and reconstruction efforts in the area.

Question from Voice of America:

This is a question for you Major Lavoie. In your comments you didn't even comment on the situation in Mitrovica. Can you tell us what's going on there, if you have any information on that?

Answer from Maj Lavoie:

Yes. On Saturday there were some protestors who attempted to go from the Albanian side to the other side of Mitrovica as you know. Yesterday, there were a lot less people on the bridge and there was no serious attempt made to cross the bridge. A lot less people and mainly adolescents basically. So for the moment the situation there is quite stable.

Question from Kosova Press:

You just stated that in Mitrovica there is an Albanian side and I would assume then that the other side is the Serb side. The border between Serbia and Kosovo is not Mitrovica it's further North, and many people who are in Mitrovica are Albanians and are a bit concerned that KFOR's position which under UNSCR 1244, KFOR is the only legitimated force in Kosovo, meaning that Serbs deciding who comes on to their side of Mitrovica would be considered unacceptable by the International Community. Can you explain, why French soldiers had not turned around and started pushing the other way instead of pushing Albanians back. For UNMIK: three Albanian judges quit, resign from their positions in Prizren two days ago under protest that they were assured that they can follow 1989 laws as a pose to Yugoslav laws which were in order here before NATO bombing. Can you explain the situation is Prizren with these three judges?

Answer from Maj Lavoie:

You are right with one thing when you said that KFOR is the only legitimate force in Kosovo, and we are. In Mitrovica the people are able to go and be escorted by KFOR on each side of the city. What we did not allow this weekend - and will not allow in the future - is to allow movements of protestation and provocation on either side of the bridge. Our aim is to bring back some calm, peace and understanding in that region and not to allow acts of provocation.

Answer from Nadia Younes:

As to the question, we find that there is some confusion about the laws and which apply and so on. According to our mandate from the Security Council, the laws that (inaudible) in Kosovo are those (inaudible) to 24 March 1999 and those will continue to apply. In so far I think not conflict with international recognized Human Right Standards. There is a lot of work - legal work - going on in looking at the laws which applied before 24 March and seeing those aspects of them that conflict with international recognized standards. This also, by the way, is reflected in Regulation 1, which was issued by a special representative on the 25 July. We are aware and it has appeared I think publicly that there are three judges in Prizren who may be resigning. There is a member of the legal team of the civil administration going there today to talk to those judges, and I have nothing more to add on that. Thank you.

Question from Swedish Radio and TV:

It seems like the honeymoon between the French soldiers in Mitrovica and the Albanians is over. How do you think that you can resolve the situation in Mitrovica using violence as the French soldiers did, or in another way? And other question about the Russian troops in Marishova. It seems that the tensions in that region are increasing. How do you think you can resolve this?

Answer from Maj Lavoie:

What happened this weekend was a protest and we did not witness hostilities on that bridge. What the French did, and rightfully, was to prevent an ethnic groups, to go and protest on the other side of the bridge. How do we intend to resolve the situation? Certainly not by allowing action that could provoke more aggression and create ethnic clashes. One of our means to achieve some kind of peace in the region is to act as mediators between the two groups, make appeals for some calm in the region, and also to ensure that our presence is seen everywhere and that we could stop hostile acts before they make victims. But, our presence there is to help two groups to start again to trust each other and to start to have a dialogue basically.

Question from (inaudible)

You are talking about the protest of Albanians in Mitrovica. But I was in Mitrovica three or four times and I was sent to the bridge and I saw every time, Albanians male, waiting for the Albanian females (inaudible) from that other part of the city. They cannot simply pass that bridge, or they can, but then they will have consequences. What do you think about that?

Answer from Maj Lavoie:

We can do that and we could provide escorts to go to the other side safely.

Question from ITN:

About the attacks in Pristina last night. You mentioned the attack on a house where two grenades are thrown and an Albanian girl of ten was injured. Can you confirm that she was actually inside the house and it was not just something where she was outside or whatever?

Answer from Maj Lavoie:

I do not have specific information on that case, but we could find out or just ask the brigade. Sorry.

Question from CNN:

Question for KFOR. KFOR continues to find illegal weapons caches. Have you examined the evidence to tie these weapons to the KLA, and if so, what is General Ceku's response?

Answer from Maj Lavoie:

In several caches, we found uniforms and signs that could lead to believe that these people could be supporters of the KLA, although other uniforms and some of these caches might also be used by criminals who want to pretend to belong to one group to do some criminal activity. So before an investigation of a given cache is completed, it's premature for us to say for sure that it belongs to the KLA just because we found a flag or a uniform there. Thank you.

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