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Updated: 7 October 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

4 Oct. 1999

KFOR Press Statement

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

Before giving you the round up of operational events over the past 24 hours, I would like to make a couple of points concerning public order.
Yesterday it was reported in the press that Mr Thaci made a number of statements about the KPC that are not only factually incorrect but also could be construed as inflammatory. I would like to remind you all that the KPC is not and will not be an army. In the words of UNMIK regulation no 1999/8 "It shall be established as a civilian emergency service agency" and will provide assistance to UNMIK in the event of natural disaster. It will contain volunteers from all Kosovo's communities, up to a maximum of 3,000 regular and 2,000 reservists. It has also not yet been formed, the IOM recruiting process continues and all individual applicants from the former UCK or elsewhere will have to pass the selection criteria before being accepted. The selection and training process is expected to take some months and in the meantime KPC recruits will help NGOs with winterization projects and KFOR engineers with minefield marking tasks. I would particularly stress that the KPC will not have a military training academy of any description. Those of you who will have read the fact sheet that we put out two weeks ago will know that there are two training establishments planned, one for basic disaster relief training and one for advanced leadership skills. I would also remind you that the KPC is a political and that no members of the KPC are permitted to engage in political activities. As a self-declared politician, Mr Thaci has no connection with or influence over the KPC and such comments as he is reported to have made yesterday are not helpful to the maintenance of public order.
My second point concerns the recent increase in the use of barricades by both Albanian and Serb communities. KFOR fully accepts that peaceful protest is an integral part of the democratic process. However, we cannot let a minority continually disrupt the daily lives of the majority. We will also not tolerate any interruption to the vital delivery of humanitarian aid to the extent that lives may be put at risk during the winter months. There are a number of barricades around Kosovo that are beginning to impact on the ability of the international community to deliver humanitarian aid. I would remind you that part of KFOR's responsibilities in paragraph 9 of UNSCR 1244 is to ensure the protection and freedom of movement of UNMIK and the international organizations. Every opportunity has been given to those who have erected the barricades to reach a peaceful settlement to their grievances. If they persist in their disruptive behavior, KFOR will have to take appropriate action to restore freedom of movement throughout Kosovo.

Now let's have a look at the situation in the brigades.


As you know, KFOR is actively involved in the search and confiscation of weapons in order to make the province a safer place to live for all the people of Kosovo. Yesterday, two successful searches were conducted in Multinational Brigade South. During house searches conducted in Orahovac and Prizren, KFOR troops confiscated two sub-machine guns, three rifle grenades, 10 hand grenades and ammunition.

At the Albanian border, in the area of Zur, KFOR German troops fired warning shots to prevent a group of individuals from entering Kosovo illegally yesterday evening. One individual was arrested while attempting to enter and the two others did not continue their attempt.

In Multinational Brigade Centre this morning, a road accident occurred in the area of Donja Dubnica, injuring two British soldiers and causing shock and breathing difficulties to their interpreter. All were admitted to the Military Hospital in Lipljan.

At approximately 02:00 hrs last night an explosive device was thrown at an empty civilian car at Gornje Dobrevo, 2 km south of Kosovo Polje. No casualties were reported and UNMIK police are investigating.

Today, the brigade will deliver over 200 shelter kits to the villages of Vucak and Sedlare as part of KFOR's support to UN winterization programs put in place to alleviate a difficult housing situation that can become worst with the arrival of autumn.

In Multinational Brigade East, a U.S. soldier was seriously injured yesterday in Vlastica, south of Gnjilane, during a road traffic accident between a personnel carrier and a tractor-trailer. The soldier was air evacuated to Camp Bondsteel and is now in stable condition. The driver of the civilian vehicle was not injured.

The brigade also reported one medical evacuation to help an Albanian man suffering from a broken leg. Such medical support to the local population is a routine but well-appreciated service provided in all brigades by KFOR personnel.

In Multinational Brigade North yesterday afternoon, an Albanian teenager male was shot in the leg while trying to cross the Ibar river on foot in Mitrovica. French troops on guard on the bridge immediately intervened and evacuated the injured to the military hospital. The attack is currently under investigation and it is not known yet what the victim was doing in the river.

A Danish soldier was hit by a civilian car yesterday morning while conducting physical training in the south-west of Mitrovica. He was evacuated to the French military hospital in Mitrovica with a broken leg.

The brigade continues to support the local population. Yesterday, KFOR troops transported building materials for the Karadic School in Zvecan. Additionally, soldiers are repainting schools in the villages of Donji Krjin and Lesak. All these activities provide valuable help, but also build a positive relationship between the soldiers and the communities they protect.

Multinational Brigade West reported no significant incidents. Beside security tasks, which remain obviously the priority, the brigade completed the rebuilding of the school in Rakos, which is expected to reopen today. Also, Multinational Brigade West distributed roof and ridge tiles, nails, timber and boards to the villages of Malevi and Drelje, and is now starting to work on the construction of a trench for a power line in the village of Zac.

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