Updated: 7 October 1999 KFOR Press Updates


15 Sept. 1999

KFOR Press Statement

by Major Ole Irgens, KFOR Spokesman

Before I go on with the events in Kosovo for the last 24 hours, let me just raise an issue of concern for KFOR, and that is realistic toy guns. These guns are becoming a potential safety problem for Kosovo. Over the last couple of months, KFOR troops have observed a significant increase in the number of toy guns among children in the province. They are imitating their role models and playing war games and pointing their toy guns at KFOR soldiers. This is dangerous, as the toy guns look very realistic, both in size and shape. A tragic accident is waiting to happen, and KFOR is very concerned about this development and for the childrens safety. For this reason, we have produced a flyer and a poster that will be printed in Serbian and Albanian and distributed througout Kosovo. The message goes to all the parents in the province: KFOR appeals to them to protect their children and tell them NOT to play with toy guns, or real ones, around KFOR personnel. Two radio spots have also been produced, and they will be available for all local radio stations prepared to broadcast them.

Now a few words about the Train for Life project. This is a train leaving from England tomorrow, and will set out on a long journey for Kosovo. On its way it will visit 11 countries, picking up such humanitarian aid as winter clothes, food, medicines, toys and school supplies. The train will arrive in Kosovo Polje on the 25th of September. Three of the locomotives will be left in Kosovo for three months. There is a press release issued on this, and it will be availale after the press conference.

Next, I would like to make a few comments upon the latest rumors and speculations about the establishing of the Kosovo Corps, and the attempts to form a sort of Kosovo Defense Army.

First, a brief background on the mandate given to KFOR, and the terms of the commitment in the undertaking offered to KFOR by the UCK.

UNSCR 1244 clearly states that there is only ONE legal security presence in Kosovo, and that this security presence is KFOR. All other military activity in this province is illegal.

Paragraph 15 in the resolution DEMANDS that the UCK comply with the request of demilitarization as laid down by the head of the International Security Presence, which means COMKFOR, in consultation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-general.

The undertaking, offered by the UCK to KFOR on the 21st of June this year, is their commitment to meet that demand, following self-imposed deadlines. Deadlines, which they have been meeting so far, I must add. Sunday the 19th of September is K+90. Then the UCK will have handed in all their declared military holdings, they will be disarmed and demilitarized, and will cease to exist as an organization. There have been speculations whether UCK will keep to their deadline, and KFOR is confident that they will.

UNMIK and KFOR, together with the UCK, has made an outline structure for establishing the Kosovo Corps. This will be a civilian, unarmed and non-military organization. It will deal mainly with disaster responsibility, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, demining and rebuilding tasks. Authority over the Corps will be exercised by UNMIK, with day to day supervision by COMKFOR.

This will NOT be a defense force, it will certainly NOT be an army, and will NOT have any role in law enforcement, riot control, counter-terrorism or any other task involved in maintenance of law and order.

Demilitarizing is NOT compatible with forming an army. Any attempts by UCK at forming a kind of Kosovo Defense Force or any other military or paramilitary group in Kosovo, will be seen upon as non-compliance, and treated as such.

The UCK has a chance to be a force for good to contribute to the rebuilding of Kosovo. We urge the leaders of the Albanian community and of the UCK to exercise real leadership. To stop the killing, houseburning and the intimidations of non-Albanian minorities. This is nothing short of criminal activity, and will be treated as such, swiftly, robustely and within the rules of law.

So, a round up of current events:

KFOR has conducted several searches for illegal weapons and ammunition the last 24 hrs in the different multinational Brigades. Weapons, shotguns, ammunition and explosives have been confiscated. KFOR soldiers seized a considerable amount of weapons in the area of Multinational Brigade East yesterday. 7 grenades, 3 AK 47, several rifles, shotguns and pistols and 1.700 rounds of ammunition was confiscated after searching two Serb houses. These will be destroyed once it is certain that they are not needed as part of any investigation.

Yesterday evening at 19:35 hrs, 5 Serbs were injured when a rocket propelled grenade was fired upon a café in Caglavica, south of Pristina in the area of Multinational Brigade Centre. One of the Serbs had a serious head injury and was sent to the medical facility in Kosovo Polje. The rest were slightly injured. After the attack, a crowd formed in response to the attack, but it later dispersed without incident. A KFOR armored vehicle was placed outside the attacked café on the request of the town leaders.

Two more incidents from Pristina: A hand grenade thrown at a Serb apartment, where nobody was injured, and harassment of an Albanian couple in another apartment. Five men dressed in black demanded the keys to the apartment, which they did not get.

A possible gunfight between unknown civilians occurred in the area of Multinational Brigade East, near Kamenica, yesterday at 20:33 hrs. Between 200 and 300 rounds were heard. There were no reported casualties, and KFOR patrols found nothing.

A civilian broke his foot when his car collided with a main battle tank in Gnjilane yesterday. He was taken to hospital in Gnjilane by KFOR.

Yesterday evening at 21:15 a grenade attack occurred near a Serb church in Kamenica. There were no reported injuries or damage.

Four men were detained in Vitomirica, area of Multinational Brigade West, at 01:00 this morning for possessing ammunition and police documents. They are being questioned by KFOR Military Police.

A dead body found in Djakovica behind the hospital was a 35 year old Roma man with gunshot wounds.

An update of the Istok prison. As you know, this prison is being refurbished by KFOR troops, and will probably receive the first detainees before Christmas. Istok will be manned by Italian prison guards, and the advance party for these guards arrives in theatre tomorrow. The prison will be finished and at full capacity in early spring next year.
KFOR Engineers are repairing wooden bridges on the road between Kuciste and Boge. The work is supposed to be finished on the 16th.

And finally, a story about beer. The beer factory in Pec is now operational and has been so since July. It is employing 430 people and they have received a salary for this month. Later this week they will receive their second salary. They have the capacity for producing 300.000 hectoliters of beer every year, that should be around 90 million cans of beer, and the capacity will be increased. They are even launcing a new beer label this week, so watch out.

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