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Yugoslavia: 14,000 NATO Troops In Kosovo, Find Possible Mass Graves


Brussels, 14 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO spokesman Jamie Shea says the alliance is ahead of its deployment schedule in Kosovo, with more than 14,000 NATO troops entering the province on the first three days of a UN-mandated peacekeeping mission. German, British, Dutch, French, and Italian troops are spreading out across Kosovo today. Shea said about 2,100 American soldiers are now in southeastern Kosovo. He said about 10,000 Serbian soldiers and police--about a quarter of Yugoslav forces deployed in Kosovo--have now left the province. All surviving Serbian military aircraft have left along with 15 percent of the Yugoslav army's tanks, one-third of its armored personnel carriers, and 10 percent of its artillery. NATO officials also said today that British and German peacekeeping forces deployed in Kosovo have found five mass grave sites which are believed to hold the bodies of some 85 massacre victims.

All the sites have been cordoned off until investigators from the war crimes tribunal in The Hague arrive.

In Kacanik, a village in southern Kosovo, British troops found three grave sites, including the local cemetery. Reporters say 30 individual plots in the village graveyard appeared very recent, indicating that bodies might have been moved from a mass site in an attempt to disguise the massacre.

According to NATO officials in Brussels, two graves were found in the Prizren region by German troops.

Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies say as many as 15,000 Serbian civilians have fled the province for other parts of Serbia since Friday. At least two alleged Serbian snipers have been killed by NATO troops. German soldiers also have stopped an angry crowd of ethnic Albanians from attacking Yugoslav soldiers at Prizren. The German Foreign Ministry says three German journalists have been killed by unidentified gunmen since yesterday.

In Moscow, the Russian Security Council today is considering its dispute with the West over a Russian role in the NATO-led peacekeeping force. About 200 Russian soldiers still control Pristina's airport. Russia is demanding full control of a sector of Kosovo, but British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says that will not happen. Cook also says Kosovo will not be partitioned.

Finally, in Belgrade 15 Serbian cabinet ministers from the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) of Vojislav Seselj have resigned from the government in Belgrade today. Seselj said the move was made in protest of the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from Kosovo and the deployment of a UN-mandated peacekeeping force in the province.

Seselj said his party has no motive to stay in the Serbian government because Kosovo is "under occupation." The Serbian Radical Party has been part of a parliamentary coalition with the Socialist Party of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and the Yugoslav Left of Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic. There were no immediate reports on whether the Radical Party would withdraw its parliamentary support for Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic.
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