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Updated: 5 October 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

5 Oct. 1999

KFOR Press Statement

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

Between 05:00 hrs and 06:25 hrs last night, Multinational Brigade Centre supported by Multinational Specialized Units removed the barricades around Kosovo Polje. This was done in order to reopen vital routes for the movement of humanitarian aid and for the free circulation of individuals, including the local population and personnel from UNMIK and international organizations. Only 20 to 30 individuals were manning the barricades when the operation started, and freedom of movement was restored without violence or incidents. A few individuals who attempted to disrupt the operation were temporarily detained although they were released immediately after and no arrests were made.

KFOR accepts that peaceful protest is an important element of the democratic process. However, the blockades around Kosovo Polje were disrupting the movement of humanitarian aid in the region, particularly due to the proximity of airport and railway infrastructure. Under paragraph 9 of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, KFOR is obliged to protect the freedom of movement of UNMIK and international organizations. The operation was done with the use of "minimum force" in accordance with principles of peace support operations. The non-violent reaction of those manning the barricades allowed the operation to proceed peacefully.

The brigade also conducted search operations in their area of responsibility. As a result, three individuals were arrested and KFOR confiscated two Ak-47, one RPG (rocket propelled grenade launcher), four anti-personnel mines and 200 rounds of small-arms ammunition.

Yesterday, KFOR received reports that a civilian vehicle has been laying mines in the area of Donje Gadimlje, 22 km south of Pristina. An explosive ordnance disposal team was dispatched and found one anti-tank mine at the site. This incident is currently under investigation.

In Vitina, in Multinational Brigade East, a 15 year-old Albanian male was seriously injured yesterday evening as he attempted to throw a grenade. He was taken to Pristina hospital with injuries to his eyes. Suspected of planning a criminal act, the young man is currently guarded at the hospital by the UNMIK police, which will take over the investigation.

In Urosevac, during the night, the Military Police reported the accidental shooting of a man, who declared that he has been accidentally shot by a friend.

In the village of Brodosavce, 2 km south of Istok, in Multinational Brigade South, a farmer uncovered 30 mines yesterday and reported them to KFOR. An explosive ordnance disposal team has been notified.

Two successful house searches were conducted in Multinational Brigade West yesterday. The first one, in Iglarevo, resulted in the confiscation of four hand grenades and one rifle. The other search, in Klina, allowed Spanish Military Police to confiscate two AK-47, five magazines and two hand grenades.

At 22:30 hrs yesterday, in the area of Kovrage, 2 km south-east of Istok, KFOR troops intervened when three individuals were attempting to rob a Roma house. When surprised, the perpetrators fired at the patrol, which arrested the three individuals. One pistol was confiscated and the Military Police is investigating this incident. No casualties were reported.

Yesterday a man was injured in a suspected shooting incident in the vicinity of Pec. The man was evacuated to Pec hospital.

In Multinational Brigade North the situation was calm yesterday.

At 01:30 hrs, small arms fires were reported in the vicinity of the battery factory of Mitrovica. The French Gendarmerie is investigating the incident.

A Serbian school re-opened yesterday in Zvecan, 3 km north of Mitrovica, thanks to KFOR Danish troops and the NGO ADRA that refurbished this school and provided it with stationary, furniture, electricity, heating and water.

Starting today, the Brigadier General Poncet is taking over the responsibility for Multinational Brigade North. He replaces General Cuche who is ending his tour of duty.

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