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Yugoslavia: Serbia Pledges To Fight Albanian Separatists


Pristina, 15 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - Serbia's government pledged today to continue fighting ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo. The pledge came as the ministers, flanked by heavy security, held an extraordinary meeting in the province's capital, Pristina. Correspondents say Serb authorities conducted the meeting in Pristina to send a signal that they have no intention of allowing the province to split from Serbia. Last night, Yugoslav Army tanks fired on two Kosovo locations.

The Serb Media Center reports that Serb troops today also sealed off the village of Racak, about 25 kilometers southwest of Pristina. An AFP reporter in Kosovo also reports hearing artillery fire outside of Stimlje, about 30 kilometers south of Pristina.

A spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Sandy Blyth, today confirmed that Yugoslav Army tanks fired on two separate locations in Kosovo overnight. Blyth said the attacks came in the western town of Decani and the southwestern town of Suva Reka.

In Sarajevo, NATO's supreme commander in Europe, General Wesley Clark, said the longer fighting continues in Kosovo, the harder it will be to negotiate a solution. In neighboring Albania, Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said he fears the Kosovo crisis could spill into Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia.

Serb forces launched a crackdown on Kosovo's majority ethnic-Albanian population last February. The worst clashes between Serb troops and the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) ended in October, when Belgrade eased its crackdown under threat of NATO airstrikes. But clashes still take place and tensions remain high.

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