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Updated: 19 October 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

19 Oct. 1999

KFOR Press Update

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

Yesterday at 14:30 hrs, a Serb man was shot dead outside a Serb bank in Pristina. Shortly after KFOR British troops from the 2 Royal Green Jackets arrested a suspect fitting the description of the attacker for this brutal act. The man is currently held by UNMIK Police for questioning. Commander KFOR, General Dr. Reinhardt, strongly condemns this cowardly attack against a Serb citizen of Kosovo.

This barbaric behavior cannot be tolerated and all efforts will be made to arrest those who think they can take the lives of others and just walk away. As a result of such cold-blooded murders, Commander KFOR has decided to step-up our security presence in Pristina.
This should not, however, bring doubts about the fact that the overall security situation throughout Kosovo has significantly improved since KFOR has arrived and that it is continuing to do so.


Yesterday, Commander KFOR went to Skopje and met with the Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and government officials. Positive discussions were held on a variety of issues, including the status of the foreign military presence in FYROM, the processing of military and humanitarian vehicles at customs, and eventual infrastructure assistance initiatives for road repairs and upgrades at Skopje airport. It was also agreed to establish a working group to improve border security and to examine ways to improve access for humanitarian convoys, particularly over the next critical weeks, during which a large amount of urgently-needed humanitarian and construction supplies will have to enter Kosovo through the Blace bottleneck as part of the winterization program.

General Reinhardt expressed KFOR's gratitude for the hospitality of the government and the people of FYROM. KFOR is quite aware that the presence of thousands of KFOR troops in the region can be a burden for the population and for public utilities and civil infrastructures. Soon, NATO engineering experts and liaison officers will continue discussions and co-ordination efforts in order to reduce military infringement on FYROM's economic and social life. This successful visit is another step towards an even better co-operation between KFOR and FYROM.


Over the last weeks, we noted that local media or posters regularly publish name lists of alleged "war criminals". KFOR condemns this arbitrary way to seek justice. Actually, KFOR is very interested in receiving relevant factual information that could lead to investigation of war crimes and eventual arrests and prosecution. However, it is totally unfair and undemocratic to seek justice through the irresponsible publication of names of people who have not been officially indicted. This could lead to horrible mistakes, unjustified acts of revenge, or to manipulation of public opinion for the purpose of harassing and intimidating individuals.

The situation remained calm in Multinational Brigade North yesterday.

Over the last days, some media reports mentioned that KFOR requested assistance from the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) in order to calm the situation in Mitrovica during a student demonstration last Friday. Let me clearly state that KFOR did not request any assistance from KPC members or anyone else to calm down the situation.

KFOR and UNMIK are the only legitimate authorities for the enforcement of law and order. This means that the future KPC will be strictly a civilian relief agency, with no authority to conduct police or crowd control operations. It is clear that, like all other citizens of Kosovo, KPC candidates are entitled to express their opinions and to act as responsible citizens if they can help through discussion to calm a delicate situation as they obviously did in Mitrovica. However, they are not authorized to do so in an official capacity as KPC personnel. It must be clearly understood that the KPC is not and will not be a law and order agency.

KFOR soldiers have performed several weapons searches the last 24 hours. In Prizren, in Multinational Brigade South, 300 g explosives, 650 rounds of ammunition, four molotov cocktails and 1 pistol was confiscated. In the area of Multinational Brigade Center, one AK 47, four rifles, one shotgun and 1000 rounds of mixed ammunition were seized. In Klina, in Multinational Brigade West, KFOR troops confiscated four AK 47s, one submachine gun, one hand grenade, two grenade launchers, and 1500 rounds of ammunition. It is illegal to be in possession of any weapons in Kosovo without a valid weapon authorization card. Any weapons confiscated by KFOR will be destroyed, and persons in possession of such weapons will be subject to criminal prosecution.

A body was found by KFOR troops in Vranic, 7 kilometers north east of Dakovica, Multinational Brigade West, yesterday. The body was heavily decomposed, and is probably 5 to 6 months old. This case is currently under investigation.

Finally, in Multinational Brigade East, a road traffic accident involving a KFOR and a civilian vehicle occurred yesterday evening at Urosevac and slightly injured a Greek soldier and a civilian. Both have been treated and then released from hospital.


MEDIA OPPORTUNITY:

During his visit to KFOR on Friday 22th October 1999, the new Secretary General of the North Atlantic Council, the Right Honorable Lord Robertson will give a press conference at the Main HQ KFOR in the presence of all members of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), the 19 permanent representatives of the NATO countries.

A 12:15 hrs, KFOR Press Information Centre will provide transportation for the media after the standard KFOR/UNMIK press briefing. A bus will leave the PIC at 11:45 hrs to HQ KFOR Main in Pristina, Film City. Due to security concerns, the media wishing to attend this event need to register at the PIC/Accreditation Desk no later than 1800 hrs, Wednesday 20st October 1999. No civilian vehicle will be allowed to enter the KFOR compound or to park nearby.

Point of contact

Media Operations desk, KFOR PIC: 038 501 330 (PTT)
00 870 383 060 323 (SAT)

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