|Updated: 7 October 1999||KFOR Press Updates|
KFOR Press Statement
by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson
The situation in Kosovo over the last 24 hours has been tense in the northern part of the province. KFOR intervened quickly firmly to calm the situation.
In Multinational Brigade North yesterday evening, an unfortunate ethnic clash caused several casualties in Mitrovica. Initial reports revealed that the incident started at approximately 17:00 hrs, when small arms and machine gun fire were heard near the stadium in Suvido and in a forest in Vithkut, in the southern part of Mitrovica. As a result, several hundred Albanian and Serb protesters gathered on the southern and northern side of the bridge and engaged in a violent confrontation, while others were attempting to cross the river through other means. The clash reached its climax at approximately 20:00 hrs, when two grenades exploded on the north side of the bridge.
From the start of this incident, French troops intervened to avoid an escalation of the situation and prevent other people to join the opposing crowds. They were assisted by the French Gendarmerie, and later by Multination Specialized Unit riot control platoons dispatched from Pristina. In the meanwhile, in Zvecan, the Danish battalion prevented hundreds of Serbs from joining the demonstration in Mitrovica. Their quick and coordinated action allowed the situation to calm down gradually during the evening. However this violent clash caused several casualties, including nine Gendarmes and six French soldiers, slightly injured from the grenade blast and stone throwing. Several Serbs and Albanians are reported to be injured, including three presently being treated at the Mitrovica military hospital. No detailed data is available on their current condition although nobody is in critical condition.
KFOR strongly condemn this type of behavior that can only fuel ethnic tensions and cause more casualties. We will continue to monitor very closely the situation in Mitrovica in order to everything possible to arrest those who attempt to cause civil unrest, and to prevent similar buildups of ethnic tension.
At 15:40 hrs yesterday, in the south of Mitrovica, seven French military were injured by an anti-personal mine during a mine clearance operation in an ammunition warehouse. They were all brought to the French Military Hospital in Mitrovica, where they were treated for slight resonance trauma.
In Multinational Brigade Centre, two different grenade attacks were reported in Kosovo Polje. One Albanian was injured when a grenade was thrown at his vehicle shortly after 11:00 yesterday evening. He has been evacuated to the 24 Armoured Field Ambulance. Two other grenades were thrown at a bar at approximately 01:00, although only one exploded and there were no injuries. Both incidents are currently under investigation.
The brigade also reported a possible mortar attack on Kukavica that occurred yesterday evening. No casualties or significant damage were reported.
Yesterday at 13:00 hrs, in Multinational Brigade East, two farmers (one man and one woman) were killed while driving their tractor near Kmetovce. KFOR US Military Police are investigating this attack. The brigade also reported one grenade attack in Gnijlane, which caused no damage or injuries.
The Vitina Military Police Station reported that they arrested three males for breaking and entering into a shop in Vitina. On September 8th, KFOR troops heard a woman crying for help, and when they responded they found all three suspects were still inside the store. The subjects were detained and transported to the Spartan Detention Facility.
In Multinational Brigade West, a Roma woman was found dead yesterday afternoon near Zahac, east of Pec. She apparently died from gunshot wounds to her chest and this murder is currently under investigation. The brigade also reported that a patrol confiscated two pistols, two daggers, one AK-47 and ammunition from an Albanian man in Brekovac.
In Multinational Brigade South, the brigade conducted a successful search operation south of Prizren and confiscated 270 kg of dynamite, 100 kg of other explosives, a rifle and ammunition. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal team secured the explosives. The brigade also arrested two Albanians for illegal occupation of an apartment.
Also in Multinational Brigade South yesterday, two Albanians were injured in a drive-by shooting in downtown Prizren. Both are in Prizren hospital and the Military Police are investigating this attack.