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Updated: 10 November 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

8 Nov. 1999

KFOR Press Update

by Major Ole Irgens, KFOR Spokesman

The security situation in Kosovo the last 24 hours has been very quiet, with one exception: Yesterday at 19:45 hrs in Pasjane, 6 kilometers south-east of Gnjilane, Multinational Brigade East, one Serb man was killed in a mortar attack. KFOR troops reacted very rapidly, and within 10 minutes after the attack, a ring of checkpoint was set up around the firing point, which was located to the village of Vlastica. A total of 4 Albanian men were arrested after the attack, and investigation will continue today.

At 17:00 hrs, yesterday, a 9 year-old boy was brought to the front gate of Camp Bondsteel with a significant head trauma. He was admitted to the US medical facility in the camp, but later died from his injuries.

A demonstration attended by 400 to 500 Kosovo Albanians took place in Kamenica yesterday between 12:00 hrs and 13:15 hrs. The demonstration was without incidents, and ended peacefully.

A Kosovo Albanian man was arrested by KFOR units after stealing money from a Roma house in Gnjilane yesterday at 14:15 hrs. The man presented himself as a KFOR employee, searching for counterfeit money.

In Dakovica, Multinational Brigade West, a pistol, a weapon authorization card, a pair of handcuffs and an ID card for the provosional KPC was handed over to KFOR personnel in a checkpoint yesterday at 16:45 hrs.

The situation at the Blace border crossing point is now extremely difficult. The civilian truck drivers have been conducting a strike, to protest on the ease of KFOR military traffic through the border. The result is that traffic moving through the border crossing point now can be delayed from 6 to 8 hours.

Speaking points from presentation on kidnappings:

As you may know, kidnappings have a long history in Albania and Kosovo. In the past the victims were held to ransom and were usually released alive. But since the conflict erupted in 1997, kidnappings increased substantially, mainly by Kosovo Albanians as a deliberate tactic against the Serbs. The death of the victim has, unfortunately, become the normal outcome. The FRY Ministry of Information counted 210 cases in the first six months of 1998. This is a short overview since KFOR arrived, based on all reporting available to KFOR from the 19th of June 1999 to 31st of October.

Since 19 June, a total of 130 persons was kidnapped or has disappeared. Forty of those or 31 % were Serbs. According to Serb sources, there has been 59 kidnappings. Given the fact that there are a number of victims of unknown ethnicity, the difference between the numbers does not seem too great. But: The Serbs suffer disproportional, since Serbs form at present about 6% of the population.

Looking at the evolution, there is a clear decrease in the number of reported kidnappings and disappearances. And the numbers have steadied on a low level. Note: the number of June is for the period after the 19th, in other words, only ten days. However KFOR's presence has clearly resulted in a substantial decrease in the number of kidnappings. In fact, there are far less kidnappings of Serbs now, than before KFOR arrived in Kosovo the 12th of June.

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