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Updated: 8 December 1999 KFOR Press Updates

Pristina,
Kosovo

8 Dec. 1999

KFOR Press Update

by Lt.-Col. Henning Philipp, KFOR Spokesman

Along with KFOR and UNMIK, Kosovo must embrace the peace process Since the arrival of KFOR in Kosovo, in June this year, the number of murders and other violent acts has decreased gradually and significantly despite occasional setbacks. One of these setbacks was the increase of the number of murder cases during the last week. However, it must be kept in mind that in the same month we also recorded the two lowest weekly murder figures since June the 12th -- two consecutive weeks at the historical low of three murders per week for the entire province. Only long-term figures can give an indication of how the "big picture" looks like in terms of criminal trends. I think it is reasonable to say that the tragic events reported during or immediately after the "Flag Day" celebrations, when emotions were at their highest, cannot be indicative for future trends.

Kosovo is certainly a place where too many murders and odious crime occur, but it sure became a safer place to live over the last months and I think it would be fair to recognise that.

KFOR and UNMIK, even with thousands of personnel, cannot stop alone the violence. For some time, the international community can provide money, people, equipment and humanitarian aid. But at the end of the day, the future of Kosovo is in the hands of the people of Kosovo.

Those who have not renounced violence have to realise to what extent they are undermining their own security and prosperity. They should bear in mind the damage they are doing to the good reputation of the people of Kosovo, which has so far encouraged many countries to commit thousands of personnel and enormous amounts of money for the reconstruction of the province.

Also, the entire population, including community leaders and the media, have a key role to play in condemning those who commit horrible crimes and who are endangering the future of the province. And people of Kosovo need to break the seal of silence and provide UNMIK Police and KFOR troops with information that could lead to arrests and convictions. It is just not bearable for the international community that from hundreds of bystanders, eyewitnessing a brutal attack on innocent people and a murder, no one comes forward to identify the killers and to help that they are brought to justice.

Through KFOR and UNMIK, the international community has demonstrated its commitment and its determination to help. KFOR troops will for sure continue to do their utmost to increase even more the security in the province. But it is up the people here to built the future of Kosovo and this can for sure not be done by looking backwards and seeking revenge. People must focus on the future, which lies in a democratic Kosovo where all ethnic groups can live together in peace.


Events and incidents in Kosovo over the last 24 hours:

Mother and son injured by a grenade:

A 28-year-old Serb woman and her 8-year-old son were slightly injured during a grenade attack in a street in Lipjan yesterday afternoon. They were taken to a local KFOR British field hospital, where they were treated and released shortly afterwards.

Arsonists attack home of Roma family:

In the southeast of Dakovica yesterday evening, a Roma house was set on fire with phosphorus hand grenades. Fortunately, nobody was injured and local civilian firemen extinguished the fire. KFOR Military Police have taken over the investigation of this attack.

More weapons taken off the streets:

Yesterday evening in Studenica, in Multinational Brigade West, a patrol conducting a search confiscated four rifles, 258 rounds of ammunition, one hand grenade, three empty magazines and one protective mask.

At the request of UNMIK Police, a KFOR explosive ordnance disposal team was dispatched to a building in Pec, where a suspicious box of ammunition was found. KFOR personnel secured the area and found in the box three sticks of dynamite, two lighters and one detonator with a fuse. All the material was taken to and later destroyed at a fireing range.

In Ridevo, a former member of the disbanded UCK contacted Multinational Brigade West troops yesterday and made a voluntary delivery of one light machine gun, 10 rounds of ammunition and two magazines.

A KFOR patrol stopped a vehicle yesterday night in Streoc, in Multinational Brigade West, and confiscated one pistol and five bullets. The driver was taken to the Military Police in Pec and arrested.

In Multinational Brigade Centre, KFOR Multinational Specialized Unit personnel arrested three individuals for illegal possession of weapons yesterday. Also, during vehicle checpoints controls, British KFOR troops confiscated one pistol from a Kosovo Albanian man travelling with his wife in a car. A follow-up search of their home lead to the confiscation of a small amount of ammunition.


Media opportunities:

  • In partneship with UNMIK, Multinational Brigade North is supporting a French-Japan winterization joint venture, which will result in the renovation of 3,000 homes in the areas of Mitrovica, Vucitrn, Srbica and Pec. Media interested in covering this 9,000,000 USD project are asked to be at the Multinational Brigade North Public Information Office on Thursday December 9th at 08:00hrs.
  • On Thursday December 9th, you are invited to participate in a winter patrol in the area of Decane, 10 km south of Pec in Multinational Brigade West. Winter patrols are conducted throughout Kosovo in order to provide a security presence and assess the need of the local population living in remote areas. During this full-day operation, interested media will have the opportunity to visit three small villages, which will receive winterization material. More details on this opportunity are posted on KFOR's information board.
  • On Friday the 10th of December UNICEF in conjunction with UNMIK and KFOR will hold a vacination clinic in Gracanica. The clinic will be of a multi-ethnic nature. Any member of the press who wishes to cover this facility should speak to one of the Multinational Brigade Centre media staff following this news conference.
  • The "Train for Future" left Berlin, Germany on the 2nd of December. With this train, the German railroad company Bahn AG donates six locomotives to Kosovo, which will be handed over to UNMIK. In addition the train carries 10 trucks and 50 stretchers for the KPC and quantity of humanitarian goods, which will be distributed through different German non-governmental organizations. The train is scheduled to arrive at the Kosovo Polje railroad station on Saturday the 11th of December. More information will soon be posted on KFOR's information board.

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