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Kosova Daily Report #1676, 99-01-28

Kosovo Information Center: Kosova Daily Report Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Kosova Information Center <http://www.kosova.com/>

Kosova Information Center
KOSOVA DAILY REPORT #1676
Prishtina, 28 January 1999


CONTENTS

  • [01] NATO 'Ready to Act' over Kosova Crisis, Solana Says
  • [02] Serbs Tried to Cover Up Re^ak Massacre, the Washington Post Writes
  • [03] Two Albanians Killed in Clashes with Serb Forces in Gjakova Village
  • [04] In the Wake of Yesterday's Serb Offensive, Llapashtica Village Shelled Today
  • [05] Heavy Detonations and Machine-Gun Fire in Border Area
  • [06] Albanian Wounded in Mines Planted by Serb Forces
  • [07] Albanian Killed by Serb Forces at Novolan on Wednesday

  • [01] NATO 'Ready to Act' over Kosova Crisis, Solana Says

    PRISHTINA, Jan 28 (KIC) - The North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) issued Thursday afternoon a generalized warning to both 'sides to the conflict' in Kosova, the Serb/Yugoslav authorities and 'Kosova Albanian armed elements' to negotiate on a platform for Kosova autonomy to be devised by the six-nation Contact Group on Friday or else face the possibility of NATO using force to back it up.

    In a statement issued by NATO, which was read out by Secretary General Javier Solana, the killing of 45 Albanians in Re^ak in mid- January was referred to as a 'massacre'. The 'FRY' authorities should bring those responsible to justice, the statement said.

    No option has been ruled out, Mr. Solana said, when he was asked about the possibility of committing ground troops to Kosova.

    NATO will back up militarily the political component of the Contact Group over the efforts for a negotiated solution to the Kosova issue, Javier Solana said during a press conference in Brussels on Thursday afternoon.

    The substance of the Contact Group plan for Kosova remains to be made public on Friday after e ministerial-level meeting to be attended also by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

    There has been apprehension in official and analytical circles in Prishtina that limited autonomy has been on offer in heretofore draft plans for Kosova, although the arrangements have been couched in a myriad of terms - 'large', 'comprehensive', 'real', 'enhanced' autonomy, 'self-government', 'internal self-government', and even 'self-autonomy'!

    The position of the Kosovar institutions, the Albanian forces across the political spectrum, as well as the Kosova Liberation Army (U^K), has been steadfast these past month: an interim political arrangement for Kosova on a par with Serbia and Montenegro at the 'FRY' level would be acceptable if it provided for a referendum at the end of the three-year period, in which the people of Kosova would determine their future status.

    [02] Serbs Tried to Cover Up Re^ak Massacre, the Washington Post Writes

    The Daily Telegraph - which carried out extensive interviews with Serbian sources, Albanian survivors, Western diplomats and international monitors - says the Re^ak operation was under the control of SAJ and JSO, special Serb operations units

    PRISHTINA, Jan 28 (KIC) - The massacre of 45 ethnic Albanians in Re^ak village, southern Kosova, on 15 January was ordered by senior Serbian officials in Belgrade, who later tried to cover up the attack, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing telephone intercepts by Western governments.

    Angered by the killing of three Serbian troops, senior officials in Belgrade ordered government forces to "go in heavy" in a Jan. 15 assault on Racak to find ethnic Albanian guerrillas (U^K fighters, KIC) believed responsible for the slayings, the Post said, quoting Western sources familiar with the intercepts.

    In the face of protests around the world, Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic and Interior Ministry Gen. Sreten Lukic, who commanded Interior Ministry forces in Kosova, systematically sought to cover up the assault, the Post reported, citing telephone conversations between the two men.

    It said details of the calls had been made available by Western officials familiar with the intercepts, Reuters news agency said.

    The (telephone) "calls show that the assault on Racak was monitored closely at the highest levels of the Yugoslav government, and controlled by the senior Interior Ministry general in Kosovo", the newspaper said.

    Sainovic and Lukic expressed concern about international reaction to the assault and discussed how to make the killings look as if they had resulted from a battle between government troops and Kosova Liberation Army guerrillas, according to the Post report.

    The objective was to challenge claims by survivors - later supported by international monitors stationed in Kosova - that the victims had been killed in an execution-style massacre, and to defuse pressures for a NATO military response, the Post writer Jeffrey Smith says.

    Sainovic is the highest-ranking official in the Yugoslav government responsible for Kosovo matters and has been present at most negotiations with top Western officials.

    The Re^ak assault "was a search and destroy mission" with explicit approval in Belgrade, sources told the Post.

    Sainovic pressed during the calls for efforts to bar Louise Arbour, a top U.N. war crimes investigator, from entering the country, the Post reported. He also demanded that Serb troops reclaim the bodies.

    Serbian forces launched a second assault on the village on Jan.

    17, and then seized the bodies from a local mosque and transferred them to the morgue in Prishtina, the capital of Kosova.

    Meanwhile, the British-based Daily Telegraph said "compelling evidence has emerged that a special forces unit of the Serbian Interior Ministry organised the execution of the 45 (Albanian) civilians killed two weeks ago at Re^ak".

    "Death squads" of highly trained soldiers are suspected being used by the Yugoslav regime against Albanian men thought to be supportive of the U^K, the Daily Telegraph says.

    "The cumulative evidence strongly suggests that, while police and local Serb civilians took part, the operation was under the control of the Specijalna Antiteroristicka Jedinica (SAJ), an anti- terrorist unit operating under the interior minister", the Telegraph says, adding that their equipment is Western and they are supported by helicopters and artillery units.

    The Special Operations Unit, or Jedinica za Specijalne Operacije (JSO), may also have been involved in the Re^ak executions, the Telegraph writer Julius Strauss says, noting that it is even more clandestine than the SAJ, a unit that falls under the intelligence branch of the Interior Ministry.

    [03] Two Albanians Killed in Clashes with Serb Forces in Gjakova Village

    PRISHTINA, Jan 28 (KIC) - The bodies of two Albanians, dressed in U^K uniforms, presumably in their twenties, were taken to the Gjakova morgue today morning, local sources said.

    The bodies were picked up at Ura e Terzive, near the Bishtazhin village of Gjakova, where gunfire was heard last night in what was apparently a firefight with the Serbian police.

    Albanian sources suspected there were fatalities on the Serb side, too.

    Serbian regime sources said two Serb policemen were shot and wounded.

    LDK sources in Gjakova said Serb police blocked the Gjakova-Prizren roadway today.

    [04] In the Wake of Yesterday's Serb Offensive, Llapashtica Village Shelled Today

    PRISHTINA, Jan 28 (KIC) - Yesterday's all-day long Serb military offensive against the Llapi region's village on the western side of the Prishtina- Podujeva highway was resumed today by Serb sporadic shelling of Llapashtica village today.

    There has been no immediate word on possible casualties today.

    Local Albanian sources said two Albanian civilians were wounded yesterday.

    Yesterday's was the fourth Serb military offensive in a month against the Podujeva area, north of Kosova.

    A Kosova Liberation Army (U^K) source said its forces had put up a strong resistance to the attacking Serbian forces, which were yesterday backed up by scores of VJ tanks and heavy artillery pieces.

    Meanwhile, an U^K fighter, Driton Azemi (21), who was shot and fatally wounded last week was to be buried today afternoon in his native village of Bradash, half a dozen km north of Podujeva.

    [05] Heavy Detonations and Machine-Gun Fire in Border Area

    PRISHTINA, Jan 28 (KIC) - Heavy detonations were heard about 23:00 CET on Wednesday near the Kushnin village of Prizren, in the border area with Albania, local sources said. Heavy machine-gun fire was reported begun at 2:00 a.m. today (Thursday) in the area.

    Early in the morning today, Serb military forces shelled an unspecified number of Albanian villages in the Drini river area and the border area, local sources said, adding that the Albanian population of the villages of Kabash, Kushnin, Lugizhd&, Dedaj, Lukij& and Romaj& were fleeing their homes and heading to the town of Prizren and other relatively safer villages.

    [06] Albanian Wounded in Mines Planted by Serb Forces

    PRISHTINA, Jan 28 (KIC) - A local Albanian, Halil Trolli (55), was wounded when he ran yesterday in a mine planted by Serb military troops in the Bira^ mountainous area, namely on the road leading to the Draga^in& village.

    Some areas in the municipality of Suhareka have been mined by Serbian troops, local sources said.

    [07] Albanian Killed by Serb Forces at Novolan on Wednesday

    PRISHTINA, Jan 28 (KIC) - Serbian forces killed yesterday (Wednesday) Mehdi Syl& Haziri (42) in the village of Novolan, Vushtrri municipality.

    Mr. Haziri, father of five, originated from Druar ('Drvar') village of the same municipality, local Albanian sources said.

    Kosova Information Center

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