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Updated: 6 September 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

6 Sept. 1999

KFOR Press Update

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

There has been a worrying escalation in violent ethnically related attacks over the last weekend. One of them resulted in the tragic death of a young Serb man in a bomb attack in Pristina Friday night. An Albanina man was killed in Prizren. Gun and rockets attacks occured in Dobrotin, Mitrovica, Pec and Gnjilane. Late last night, mortar rounds landed in the vicinity of Pasjane, in Multinational Brigade East.

Thankfully, not all these attacks brought the sinister results they were aiming to achieve. And thankfully, several community leaders are joining UNMIK and KFOR in condemning these attacks and in calling for restraint in order to avoid innocent victims to perish in the name of ethnic hatred.

Although KFOR and UNMIK are two partners in the venture of restoring law and order, our efforts alone cannot solve the cycle of violence. A third partner, the people of Kosovo have to now voice clearly they will not accept the return of terrorism in their own neighborhood, streets and backyards.

Obviously, KFOR will continue to enforce all the security and protection that is humanly possible, in cities, village and countryside, and especially where minorites live. But we also need the support of the local population. We need information that can help prevent crimes and lead to the arrest of the perpetrators. And we need all people to trust us enough to allow our peace forces to do their job in all villages whether they are coming from Brittain, Russia or Austria.

Now let us have a look at the situation in the brigades during the last 24 hours.

As I mentioned earlier, mortar rounds were seen impacting and heard in the area of Pasjane, in Multinational Brigade East, late last night (2335 hrs.). For the moment, the brigade reported no casualties or injuries and troops are searching for suspects.

At 06:05 hrs this morning in the area of Korminjane, northeast of Gijlane in the Russian area of responsibility, there was a firefight between Serb and Albanian gunmen. Three Albanians were shot while driving a car. One died and two others were injured. A Russian quick reaction force responded to the incident and found the three Serbs at the scene beating two wounded Albanians. The Russian troops ordered the Serbs to stop. The Serbs responded to this order by firing at the Russian troops and, in accordance with KFOR rules of engagement, they returned fire killing all three Serbs. Civil and military police are investigating. No KFOR casualties have been reported.

In the region of Kamenica, Russian troops are providing escorts to school buses in 9 villages, including Domorovce, Odanovce and Ajnovce.

In Multinational Brigade West, a KFOR patrol came across a car in distress in Dakovica. The driver of the car had been shot and killed and one of the two passengers, a woman, had been beaten. The injured woman was taken to the Dakovica hospital and an investigation is still ongoing.

The Russian contingent in Multinational Brigade South continues to support the village of Crnovrane, where a rainstorm and a mudslide occurred Saturday. At the request of the population they provided medical assistance, food and pharmaceutical products.

In Orahovac, locals are still maintaining roadblocks at main accesses to the city. The areas of Malisevo and Orahovac are part of the Russian area of responsibility, as agreed at Helsinki in June. While the situation in Orahovac is being discussed, Russian troops are continuing their deployment elsewhere in the area with Dutch KFOR troops to provide security in the region as part of the KFOR mandate. An encouraging sign was noted yesterday, when a humanitarian convoy brought needed supplies to the Serb community under KFOR's escort. In Multinational Brigade Centre, concerning the early report made yesterday on mortar rounds being fired in Dobrotin, further investigation revealed that it was in fact a 82-mm recoilless gun attack. A Serb woman who was in the vicinity suffered a minor injury from an ammunition fragment.

At 12:20 yesterday, a Serb man was shot near Milosevo after a confrontation with four men. KFOR troops evacuated the slightly injured man to Pristina hospital, where he was treated.

The partial blockades at either end of Gracanica remain in place. Villagers are protesting over the kidnapping of Mr. Popovitch, a well-known local man who was reported missing on August 31st. The atmosphere has become more tense --although not violent-- this weekend as a consequence of recent attacks against Serbs in Pristina and Dobrotin. Military troops from Multinational Brigade Centre, as well as essential service workers, were allowed access. Negotiations and discussions took place over the weekend with a view to improving the situation, particularly with respect to access for the local Albanian population. KFOR's presence is aimed at preventing escalation of the problem and is encouraging the local Serb community to air their greivances. KFOR continues to do its upmost to resolve their concerns.

Apart for sporadic small arm fire, Multinational Brigade North remained relatively quiet yesterday. KFOR pursues its efforts in providing humanitarian aid and support to the local population. For the last two monts and a half, the KFOR French military hospital of Mitrovica gave half of its medical care to civilian patients. This represents 120 surgical operations, 600 surgical consultations, 500 medical consultations, 500 X-rays and more than 100 dental consultations.

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