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Updated: 6 October 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

6 Oct. 1999

KFOR Press Statement

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

Yesterday afternoon as you know there was an unfortunate incident of public disorder after an Albanian funeral in Supkovac, near Mitrovica. However, it would appear that this was a spontaneous event as a result of a series of unlucky coincidences rather than any pre-planned act of aggression. It would seem that after the funeral, which ended peacefully, a vehicle became caught up in the crowd. The Serb driver was pulled out and beaten by an Albanian male. The French Gendarmerie intervened and arrested the Albanian at which point a hostile crowd gathered and KFOR troops were forced to fire warning shots. A Russian re-supply convoy was also in the area and became the target of violence by the Albanian crowd. One Russian vehicle (BRDM 2) was set on fire and has since been recovered. More warning shots were fired and KFOR troops from MNB(N) rapidly intervened to restore order and evacuate the injured. Their prompt action prevented the situation from becoming much worse although regrettably on Serb male was killed and 11 injured during the incident, one seriously. 18 KFOR personnel were also slightly injured. I can confirm that none of the injuries was caused by gunshot wounds. The incident ended peacefully just after 5.30 p.m. It was thankfully not as serious as first reports suggested but it was disturbing nonetheless and highlights the continuing volatility of the situation in some parts of Kosovo. It is an indication of the continuous underlying current of violence and revenge that still exists in Kosovo. Only with the support and will of the people of Kosovo can we hope to break the cycle of violence that has caused too much suffering already and we look to all community leaders to exercise their leadership and restraint to help shape a better and peaceful future for Kosovo.

 


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

Yesterday evening in Pristina one man waiving a pistol in a threatening manner was arrested by British KFOR troops and his weapon was confiscated. He has been handed over to UNMIK Police for further questioning.

KFOR also received a report from UNMIK Police confirming that three men wearing KPC uniforms were arrested at Pristina Hospital for threatening civilians. I would like to stress that, should further investigation confirm this initial report, individuals found responsible for breaking the law will be dealt with like criminals and will lose all rights to join the KPC. It would not be consistent with UNSCR 1244 to allow criminals to join a protection corps, and therefore to hold a membership card or to be allowed to provide relief services to the people of Kosovo. Nobody is above the law.
Multinational Brigade Centre searched and closed three former UCK PU stations yesterday in Podujevo and Kodraucet. Further searches in the Majance valley in the north of the area of responsibility discovered 15 rifles, 1 grenade, 1 detonator, 2 pistols, 1 shotgun an 300 rounds of ammunition.

Multinational Brigade East reported a calm situation for the last 24 hours. A noteworthy event however: a man was arrested yesterday afternoon in Podujevo as a suspect in a murder investigation. During the arrest, seven rifles and magazines were confiscated.


In Multinational Brigade South, another round of negotiations on the issue of the Russian military contingents deployment at their Area of Responsibility was held today in Orahovac. The commander of the Russian military contingent (MajGen Valerie YEVDUHOVICH), the Commander of Multinational Brigade South (Brig Gen Wolgang SAUER), and representatives of the Albanian community of Orahovac, the Kosovo Protection Corps, UNMIK and Dutch peacekeepers took part in the negotiations. The parties concerned have once again confirmed their will to solve the problem by peaceful means, taking into account both KFOR interests in this peacekeeping operation and local population interests. At the negotiations they have discussed the Russian proposal on the deployment of the Russian troops in the area of responsibility without their entering the city itself. Overall the parties supported this proposal and agreed to meet once again after working out all the details of the proposal, stressing that they should coordinate their efforts with representatives of the UN civil administration in Orahovac. I will keep you updated on all future developments.

Yesterday evening in Dragobilje, south of Malisevo, children reported that their father had been abducted by three unidentified men. KFOR is investigating that report and is currently searching the missing Albanian man.

In Orahovac yesterday, KFOR troops reported that 21 old rifles and 40 rounds were found in a house. An investigation is currently underway.

Also, yesterday afternoon KFOR German troops had to fire warning shots near the Albanian border when a group of individuals attempted to cross the border illegally. This prompt action prevented the individuals to enter Kosovo.

In Multinational Brigade West yesterday, the body of a young Bosnian Muslim man was found near the Pec Patriarchate.

In Multinational Brigade North, apart form the incident mentioned earlier, the situation was calm yesterday. One detonation was heard in Mitrovica at 04:30 but no report of injuries or damage was received.


Question from Reuters: I have got a question for Major Lavoie. Are we understand it right that the Russians, the latest plan is that the Russians won't enter Orahovac itself, it sounds as if KFOR has given up on that idea. Now you're looking at a plan where they would be in the surrounding area but not actually in the city itself. Is that the case. Can you tell us why did you have changed the plan.

Answer from Major Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: Actually at this time, this is being negotiated, so I wanted to give you an update on the matter that was been discussed. Obviously this is not completed at this moment, and it's a bit too early. My goal is to give you an update as soon as there is a development but the deployment of the Russians within the city is now being discussed with the population.

Question from Koha Ditore: It has been said that KPC troops have been invited yesterday to calm down the situation in Mitrovica. Can you confirm that.

Answer from Major Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: I would like to remind, that KPC are not a law and order agency. They have no role to play in law and order. This is not our intention to use them for that purpose so we have obviously not asked them to have an involvement of that nature. Obviously, from members of the KPC if they could help as community leaders to calm the situation down and to make an appeal to the population to stop violence this would be well appreciated by all of us. But we have to make sure that we do not confuse citizens that could play a duty as citizens and to make an appeal to everybody to calm down, and organisation that should not at all be involved formally in law and order operations.

Question from Junge Welt: I would like to know in which function Mr Vollebaek will come to Pristina and whether there is (inaudible) upon the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Second question. I did not get it clearly, how much persons, who took part, or precisely took part in the killing of that Serb in Mitrovica have been arrested and if there are some arrests where are the arrested people now? Thank you.

Answer by Mrs Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokeswoman: I will answer the first part of your question. Mr Vollebaek as you know is the acting chairman of the OSCE, he also is the (inaudible) of the OSCE. I cannot confirm or hope to provide the information whether his visit has been consulted with the FRY authorities.

Answer from Major Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman:
Concerning the arrests, for the moment there are reports of one Albanian that has been arrested by the French gendarmerie. We have to take into account that the investigations have just been started about that matter and we don't know for the moment if there will be more arrests made.


MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

On Friday 8 October 1999, Lieutenant General Sir Mike Jackson will hand over command of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) to General Dr. Klaus Reinhardt. The handover ceremony will take place at the KFOR CIMIC Centre, Pristina at 1100hrs. General Wesley Clark, SACEUR and Admiral James Ellis JR, CINCSOUTH will also attend the ceremony.

The handover ceremony will be preceded by a Press Conference at 1000 hrs in the KFOR PIC during which General Jackson will present an assessment of the 8 months of the mission from the preparations in Macedonia to date. There will be the chance for Q&A and short interviews after both the press conference and the ceremony. Anyone who would like to talk to any of the principles should inform the KFOR PIC.

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