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Updated: 17 September 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

17 Sept. 1999

KFOR Press Statement

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

The final Joint Implementation Council meeting between the UCK and KFOR was held at HQ KFOR yesterday. Gen Ceku presented his report on UCK compliance to Gen Jackson and announced that the UCK had handed in its weapons ahead of their self-imposed deadline of 19 Sep.

There are now over 10,000 UCK weapons held in the Secure Weapons Storage Sites. Until the deadline for full demilitarisation at midnight on Sunday, the UCK will retain a limited number of weapons for guarding the assembly areas. At midnight the responsibility for the security of the Assembly Areas passes to KFOR. There will be opportunities for the media to attend the formal "changing of the guard" at selected sites to be confirmed. From midnight on Sunday, all ex-UCK weapons will be held under the control of KFOR.

The full process of demilitarisation will be complete at midnight on Sunday 19 Sep 99. Until that time, UCK members are permitted to wear uniforms in the Assembly Areas. There will also be a number of UCK parades and funerals over the next few days leading up to Sunday's deadline for demilitarization at which the wearing of uniforms and the carrying of limited numbers of weapons in public has been approved by COMKFOR.

At 10.00 am on Sunday, there will be a final meeting at HQ KFOR between Gen Jackson and Gen Ceku, in his capacity of UCK Chief of Staff. Gen Ceku will sign a declaration of the completion of demilitarisation and support for the transformation process, which includes the formation of the Kosovo Corps. The signing will be covered by a pool camera and photographer. Afterwards, Gen Jackson and Gen Ceku will make a short public statement.

On Sunday afternoon at 3.00pm the SRSG Dr Kouchner and COMKFOR, Gen Jackson will hold a joint press conference here in the KFOR PIC to announce the start of the process to form the Kosovo Corps. This is part of the continuing process of transformation, which includes the IOM resettlement program and the formation of the Kosovo Police Service.

Now, let's have a look at the situation in the brigades for the last 24 hours.

In Multinational Brigade West yesterday, the decomposed bodies of three men and one child were found in a field a few kilometers north of Dakovica. Military Police have initiated an investigation on this finding.

Yesterday at 12:30 hrs, an Albanian girl was injured during a drive-by shooting in Istock. She was taken to a civilian hospital in Pec and we don't know at this time if the perpetrators have been arrested.

At 00:40 last night, four to six explosions were heard near Gorazdevac. A quick reaction force was sent to search the area and found no casualties or traces of damage.

Over 1,100 UCK weapons were handed over to Multinational Brigade West yesterday. In addition, a man found in possession of an AK-47 was arrested west of Dakovica, the owner of one pistol was arrested in Pec, and one AK-47 and ammunition were confiscated in Boudicsaci, 10 km south of Istock.

Yesterday, in three separate incidents, a total of 10 UCK members in uniform but unarmed were seen outside their assembly areas by KFOR patrols. They were escorted back to their assembly areas without further incidents.

Yesterday evening, stones were thrown at a Serb convoy travelling in the area of Gorazdevac, east of Pec. As a result, three men were injured.

In the centre of Lipjan yesterday evening, in Multinational Brigade Centre, three improvised explosive devices detonated near Serb apartments and four other explosions occurred nearby. A KFOR lieutenant suffered minor cuts when an occupant of a targeted apartment threw a device back outside, where KFOR was maintaining a security presence. No other injuries or damage have been reported and the brigade is continuing its investigations.

Over the last weeks, KFOR troops in Multinational Brigade Centre have distributed 572 UNHCR home winterisation shelter kits to the local population.

Pristina Airport will be open for commercial air traffic on the 14th of October. At the end of the month, the airport will accommodate five flights on a daily basis. KFOR will have the control and supervision over all flights over Pristina airport, both military and civilian.

It has been relatively quiet the past several days in Multinational Brigade East. Numerous businesses and factories have been reopening throughout the U.S. sector as people return and life returns to normalcy. The Bottle factory in Klokot is just the latest to reopen. The factory produced 4,500 bottles yesterday. Of final note, the only significant incident reported last night were three explosions that occurred near a church north of Pasjane. No injuries or damages were reported and the brigade is investigating.

In Multinational Brigade South, the situation was calm yesterday. The brigade reported one house fire and medical assistance provided to one injured man entering Kosovo from Albania and suffering gunshot wounds.

A similar situation was observed in Multinational Brigade North, where two Serbs were detained for questioning yesterday evening in Mitrovica for suspicious possession of pistols, cameras and radio equipment. In two separate incidents, KFOR French and Russian explosive ordnance disposal teams cleared two hand grenades found in north of Mitrovica and in Lausa, 17 km southwest of Mitrovica. Also UCK weapons were handed over to the brigade, including 16 AK-47, 37 rifles, and 36 machine guns.


Question from BBC: Question for KFOR: General Ceku has given his version of the weapons handing in. Did you have any comment on that? Have you received all weapons you want yet?

Answer from Maj Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: Gen Jackson will make an appreciation of the numbers of weapons turned in on Sunday. However, what we could say for the moment is that we have been overall satisfied with the co-operation and the handing over of weapons by the UCK up to now. We have to keep in mind, that there are still two days left and as I just announced, over 1000 weapons were turned in yesterday. Our job is not finished yet; it is just starting.

Question from Time Magazine: We understand that significant numbers of these significant weapons, or number of these weapons, have coming from Albania. Of the 10,000 that you listed, could you give us a percentage or number how many has come in from Albania and handed over to KFOR? Thank you.

Answer from Maj Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: I do not have the percentage now. It is something I guess I could get however. Yes, we confirm that some of these weapons came from Albania although this is not a huge proportion, although I do not have this specific amount. And also these were parts of weapons that were declared as UCK holdings located there in their initial assessment that was provided to us on the beginning for their total quantity of weapons that they were having. So this is not a last minute or surprise attempt from UCK to bring some weapons from other sources.

Question from Washington Post: Following up on the last thing you said. The weapons that they have been turned in, how does that compare to the declaration they made? Is it the same number, less, more? Is there some adjustment of their first declaration, they made subsequent declaration, how it is compared to either of one of those figures?

Answer from Maj Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: I do not want to preempt what Gen Jackson and Gen Ceku will announce formally this weekend. I know you have waited a long time and we are at K+88, so there are only two days left. If you could bear with us two days. I would prefer to let General Jackson himself do that appreciation of the total number of weapons and to qualify his degree of satisfaction.

Question from N-TV: I understand that quite a lot of weapons, according to the Internal Ministry in Macedonia, quite a lot of weapons have been smuggled out to Macedonia before being handed in here and are stored there in all kind of hidden areas. Any comment on that?

Answer from Maj Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: I do not know about this specific statement or declaration. One thing for sure is that it is sure here in Kosovo, and all over the Balkans, there is a huge amount of weapons in circulation. And we will be the last one to pretend that, because the UCK has turned over their holding of weapons, Kosovo is now weapon-free. As I mentioned a bit earlier I see that our task actually just started. Now that the demilitarization process is approaching its end we still have to continue to remove weapons held by many other people, other organizations, other individuals in Kosovo. What you said is possible, although I do not have any specific information on that statement that you mentioned.

 

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