Updated: 8 September 1999 KFOR Press Updates


8 Sept. 1999

KFOR Press Statement

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

Although it has been relatively calm over the last 24 hours in Multinational Brigades West, South and North, several outburst of violence occurred in the central and eastern parts of the province.

In Multinational Brigade Centre, a Finnish quick reaction force had to intervene yesterday afternoon to disband illegal Serb vehicle check points in Livade and Donja Gusterica. In Kosovo Polje, at 17:40 hrs, a demonstration for the release of a Serb suspected criminal degenerated when the crowd stopped two vehicles and started to beat the passengers. As a result several people were injured and two Serbs received gunshot wounds. In Plementina last night, machine gun fire and three explosions were heard, and a KFOR patrol came under fire and returned fire when dispatched to the secure the area. Fortunately, no injuries were reported in relation with this incident. Also, last night a man was found shot dead in a garage South of Pristina.

An encouraging sign however, yesterday morning a British KFOR soldier guarding a Serb flat in Poduevo recognized a suspect from an earlier incident and arrested him. A subsequent search allowed to recover one AK-47 and one pistol, and the Albanian man is now detained in Libyjan.

In Multinational Brigade East yesterday evening, mortar rounds were fired at the town of Donja Budriga, killing two civilians and injuring four. At about the same time, a drive-by shooting was reported against a Serb café in Cernica, although nobody was injured. Early this morning Multinational Brigade East reported probable mortar round firing in the area of Petrovce, east of Gijlane.

KFOR Apache helicopters and a ground patrol located one Serb shepherd reported to have been kidnapped, but who was in fact looking for his missing livestock. Brigade soldiers will help him to locate the livestock today.

Multinational Brigade West has a new commander. Yesterday afternoon a change of command ceremony took place in Decani, during which Brigadier-General Mauro Del Vecchio symbolically passed the NATO flag to his successor, Brigadier-General Giuseppe Emilio Gay, the actual commander of the 132nd Armoured Brigade "Ariete" in Italy. The Italian Prime Minister, Mr. D'Alema, present for the occasion, gave a speech, thanking all the three national contingents composing the brigade. Mr. D'Alema also encouraged the UCK to pursue their demilitarization in saying ''the same courage they have shown in taking arms for their freedom, should be shown now in giving up their weapons''.

Multinational Brigade North reported a successful cordon and search operation, during which rifles and grenades were found in Kolo.

A similar successful mission was accomplished yesterday in Siroko, in Multinational Brigade South. Two AK-47, one pistol, six grenades and six boxes of assorted ammunition were found and three people were arrested.

Finally, an unfortunate road traffic accident occurred yesterday in Skopje. A KFOR heavy vehicle collided with a civilian bus, injuring five civilian passengers. An investigation is underway.

Question from Reuters: Question for KFOR: the mortar rounds that were fired killing two civilians and wounding four people, do we have the ethnic identity of those people or at least an idea if they belong to one ethnic group or another. And more generally, I mean, we seem to have had several reports of rocket attacks and mortal attacks in the past few days in that area - MNB East - is there any reason why there's such a concentration of those attacks in that area.

Answer from Major Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: As far as the ethnic background is concerned, I don't have that information at this time. However, I'm sure the brigade either has it now or will have it very shortly, so I invite you to contact directly the brigade. You are right, in the last days we have noticed an increase of mortar or similar attacks in MNB East particularly. We have to look at the map to understand that several of these events occurred in the same region where there is a kind of tension that has built up along the last incidents. So you understand our challenge now that some people are concerned and there has been a couple of ethnic clashes. We have to make all possible efforts to calm this situation down and to increase our presence and to be very visible, and it is a very big challenge, believe me.

Question from Radio 21: I am interested to know something more from Mrs Rozgonova, about that sub-commission for the prisoners. What it is going to be like and if you have some more details for us. And something else for Major Roland Lavoie: there is an idea we had heard recently about the transformation of the UCK into a sort of Protection Corps. If it happens like that, what would be the relations between KFOR and this Protection Corps. I mean would it be like a partnership, fellowship, whatever. Thank you.

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: On the sub-commission for prisoners and detainees. You have to wait until there will be the minutes of the meeting when it finishes at 12 o'clock and perhaps a statement on that too. It's still in progress, I cannot tell you more than that.

Answer from Major Lavoie KFOR Spokesman: Concerning the transformation of the UCK. First let me tell you a few words to define that organisation. We talk here, although we do not have a definite name for it, of a uniform, civilian, non-military organization that will be formed after the demilitarisation will be complete, that means on the 20th September. This organisation will be unarmed and the main aim will be to provide relief and emergency support to the people of Kosovo. KFOR's relation, to address specifically your question, with that organization will be mainly monitoring and making sure that 100 % of the undertaking and the spirit of Resolution 1244 is respected. But, obviously, this will be an organization that will belong to the people of Kosovo, that will also include by the way, not only UCK people but other citizens of Kosovo. For the moment it is a bit premature to go into the details, because as you probably, know the proposal for this organisation is now discussed at the senior NATO and UN level.

Question from Time Magazine: Can you please clarify the status of the Trepcea mines, do they belong to Milosevic's brother. Do they belong to UNMIK. Whose control do they fall under, the Albanians, what's the deal with Trepcea. Thank you.

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: That's one of the issues that is being discussed now and negotiated within UNMIK and at this moment of course I cannot tell you much. Very shortly probably, we will have more about that subject matter. That's all I can tell you now.

Further question from Time Magazine: (inaudible due to microphone not being given to journalist)

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: I cannot tell you more than I did already, really…you'll have to give us a little time. I'm aware that it's a very intense issue right now, I know that, but there is not much more - at this point - that I can tell you.

Further question from Time Magazine

(inaudible due to microphone not being given to journalist)

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokeperson: I did not say that. I'm saying at this point, I cannot tell you what the progress of negotiations are on the Trepcea mines.

Further question from Time Magazine: (inaudible due to microphone not being given to journalist)

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: I cannot speak about that. I will be very glad to do that later on and please, stay in touch.

Question from unknown: When?

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: I don't have the exact timings, it's very intense right now, I know that.

Question from unknown: Friday…or before?

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: I cannot tell you that…I don't know. It doesn't depend on me.

Question from Russian News Agency: I have a couple of questions: First, since Yugoslavia and Macedonia have a free trade agreement. Are custom duties going to be levied on Macedonian goods entering Kosovo. And then the second question: Since UCK is going to transform partly into a civilian Corps and since it is going to be a civilian organization. Under whose supervision or control is it going to be, UNMIK's or KFOR's. Thank you.

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson:
I can answer the second question because I will need you to repeat the first question as I didn't quite get what you meant. But alright, to the second question: once we get beyond the demilitarisation of the UCK /KLA on 19th September, the next phase will be what we call transformation. From that phase on indeed, it will be UNMIK's responsibility and UNMIK will be working with the transformation. Could you repeat the first question please?

Question from Russian News Agency: The first question was: Yugoslavia and Macedonia have a free-trade trade agreement, regarding the duties of customs. So will customs duties be levied on goods, on Macedonian goods, entering Kosovo.

Answer from Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: I think that it's levied already on all goods entering Kosovo. …it is again one of these questions that we'll have to discuss later on.

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