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Updated: 20 October 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

20 Oct. 1999

KFOR Press Update

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

Good morning. For most of the brigades the situation was calm yesterday.

In Multinational Brigade East, the Serb community of Migola, a mixed village inhabited by Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, located three kilometers north-east of Vitina, was attacked yesterday morning at 05:55 hrs. Investigation revealed shots fired from a rocket propelled grenade launcher and automatic weapons hit three Serbs houses and a barn. The inhabitants returned fire and fortunately, none of them was injured during this cowardly attack. A KFOR patrol was sent to the scene, but the aggressors had fled before its arrival. While the investigation is ongoing, KFOR has installed a checkpoint in the village and has increased the presence of ground patrols. Also, two rifles were confiscated from the inhabitants. KFOR prefers to provide the village with a robust protection from professional soldiers rather than having the villagers defend the area on their own. Direct and immediate protection of sensitive areas has proven to bring good results for many villages throughout Kosovo, particularly in Multinational Brigade East, where thousands of Serbs have returned to small communities protected by KFOR. The same trend has been observed in the area of Pec, in Multinational Brigade West, where 700 Serbs have returned and also in Multinational Brigade North, where the return of 600 hundred Serbs was reported recently.


UNMIK police found a Serb male, who had been shot in the chest, about 1 km outside Urosevac shortly after 08:00 hrs this morning. The man said he had been shot by three Albanians. He is being treated at the 67th Combat Support Hospital on Camp Bondsteel.
The shooting is under investigation.

Multinational Brigade East soldiers took an Albanian man into custody after he threatened an Albanian woman near Pozaranje Monday. A search of the suspects home revealed two assault rifles and a pistol, which were confiscated. The man is being held at Camp Bondsteel.

Two Russian soldiers and two Serb civilians were slightly injured outside Gnjilane when the driver of a Yugo crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Russian wheeled armored personnel carrier. The four injured were transported to the Russian field hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and later released. The Yugo was damaged beyond repair.

There were two Grenade explosions were in Gnjilane last night at 19:00 hrs. No damage or injuries were reported.

In Urosevac, U.S. soldiers are transporting six-tons of wheat to the mountain village of Burnik this morning in cooperation with CARE as part of the ongoing winterization program.

In Multinational Brigade Centre and Multinational Brigade North, KFOR, UNMIK and UNHCR are conducting a Joint Winterization Emergency Exercise today. The aim of this exercise is to test a short notice response to an emergency within Kosovo. Eight trucks, each capable of transporting a load of 15 tons, departed this morning from the UNHCR warehouse in Pristina and are now arriving to an off loading site in Kacandol, 20 km northeast of Mitrovica. Although this is an exercise, real good are being transported in support of the UNHCR winterization efforts in the area. With the arrival of winter, and with expected requirements for quick delivery of winterization kits, Commander KFOR instructed all brigades to step-up their short-notice capabilities for the transport of relief goods throughout Kosovo. This is another example of the partnership between UNHCR, KFOR, and international or non-governmental organizations for providing assistance to those in need in Kosovo.

Shortly after 02:00hrs this morning, in Multinational Brigade Centre, a hand grenade was thrown inside the Kosovo Protection Corps compound in Pristina. The explosion caused no injuries and no significant damage. This incident is currently under investigation by UNMIK Police with support the Royal Green Jackets.

As mentioned in my statement yesterday, Commander KFOR ordered to increase KFOR's security presence in the area of Pristina. Already our presence has been increased through more frequent patrols and through the detachment of a Multinational Specialized Unit to Multinational Brigade Centre. This just adds to another longer-term enhancement of KFOR's security presence in the brigade. Last Tuesday, the Norwegian Telemark Battalion took over the area of responsibility previously occupied by the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in Multinational Brigade Centre. The Telemark Battalion is a fully mechanized infantry battalion based on armored personnel carriers and is the Norwegian contribution to NATO's Immediate Reaction Force. The unit is reinforced with an armored engineer company and consists of 980 soldiers. This represents the largest military unit that Norway has deployed abroad since 1953. On October 29th, the area of responsibility will be split with a Swedish Battalion assuming responsibility for the eastern half. This will bring an additional 850 soldiers to the area and will provide a significant increase in presence on the ground for KFOR and Multinational Brigade Centre.

Yesterday, early in the afternoon in Lipljan, a road traffic accident involving a civilian vehicle and a KFOR vehicle claimed the life of one of the two passengers of the civilian car. The other passenger was evacuated to the field hospital of Lipljan with minor injuries. Military police are conducting the investigations.

In Svrhe, 7 km south of Klina, in Multinational Brigade West, during a search operation, KFOR troops found five rifles, two grenades launchers, and 1,500 rounds of small arms ammunitions. The weapons and ammunitions were confiscated, but no arrest was made.

In two different incidents yesterday morning and last night, truck drivers were robbed at illegal checkpoints in the area of Dakovica. An initial investigation allowed to arrest one suspect, and the money taken during one of these incidents was recovered. KFOR is continuing its investigation.

The 10th Italian Engineer Battalion has begun yesterday the construction of a bridge on the road between and Pec and Mitrovica, 2 km west of Durakovak. The construction is expected to be complete next Sunday. The bridge will allow the traffic to flow on this important road for vehicle weighting up to 110 tons.

In Mitrovica, Multinational Brigade North, bursts of small arms fire were heard early in the afternoon yesterday. A KFOR patrol sent on the scene found no evidence of damage or injuries. An investigation is ongoing.

Yesterday morning, while they were cleaning a well in Suk Mah, 5 km north east of Suva Reka, in Multinational Brigade South, a KFOR engineers team found the remains of a human body in the bottom of the well. Military Police and forensics are investigating this case.


Question from AP: I am interested in what response UNMIK plans to the Serb …. on Monday? I talked to Maj Gen Thomann a couple of days ago, he told me the Serbs who went to France were just observers they weren't respective members of the corps and I like a response to that. He also said there was too much ethnic tension to consider having Serbs in the corps at this point.

Answer from UNMIK and KFOR: (UNMIK) As far as I know, they were respective members of the core. The core hasn't yet been officially set up. I'll have to check with Maj Gen Thomann. (KFOR) In the group, there were some candidates because as you see the corps is not established officially. Some were candidates and some were observers sent from their communities so that they could brief the communities about what would be the corps and what kind of training would be available for them in France. The group that left was a mix of candidates and observers. (UNMIK) For the first part of the question we are on day-to-day contact with the representative of the community of Kosovo, I will have to check with them to see if there is any reaction from them because we just put this out late last night.

Question from Television Kosovo: I have heard some information from a news agency stating that KFOR condemns publishing names of that support war criminals, quoting a spokesman Roland Lavoie, will you comment Sir.

Answer from KFOR: We have noticed that it happened in a local paper and it happened also in the past in newspapers. It also happened through posters posted in different cities across Kosovo and recently in Pec, that some lists of alleged war criminals were posted on walls. Sometimes these advertisements or posters are signed by the KLA or the MUP. For KFOR this is absolutely and totally unacceptable. On the one hand this is very, very dangerous because the authority here to conduct an investigation, arrest people and make trials rests with the partnership between KFOR and UNMIK, and eventually for our criminals even ICTY. This is not a matter to be taken lightly by local people who think that somebody could be a criminal. This could result in unfair and unjust situation, attack, harassment, or even murders that would be totally unjustified. We invite the population of Kosovo, whatever their ethnic background, if they have any indication or evidence of criminal activity, to notify it to KFOR or to UNMIK police, but not to take justice in their own hands. Those who do that will not like their name on the list if they have done nothing and it's not fair for those people to have their name on the list without any verification or control of their identity or behavior in the past.


MEDIA OPPORTUNITY

On Friday 22th October 1999, the new Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Right Honorable Lord Robertson will visit Kosovo with all the members of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), who are the 19 permanent representatives of the NATO countries. They will meet at KFOR Main Headquarters, in Pristina, in the presence of General Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

This visit will be an opportunity for these NATO decision-makers to meet the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Dr. Kouchner, Commander KFOR General Dr. Reinhardt, Kosovo community leaders from all ethnic background and officials in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

This will be the first visit of NATO Secretary General in Kosovo since his recent appointment as head of the Atlantic Alliance. This visit will allow him, as well as NAC members, to assess the overall security situation in Kosovo and to obtain first hand information on key issues.

The North Atlantic Council is a unique forum for wide-ranging consultation between member governments on all issues affecting their security and is the most important decision-making body in NATO. This visit clearly demonstrate the interest that NATO members pay the people of Kosovo and the KFOR mission stood up four months ago to provide a security presence in the province.

For more information on this visit, please have a look at KFOR's information board posted outside the conference room.

 

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