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Kosovo Report: September 13, 1999


13 September 1999, Number 36, Volume 1

ALBANIANS HOLD PROTESTS IN MITROVICA. Several hundred ethnic Albanian protesters held a rally outside UN headquarters in Mitrovica on 12 September, demanding that KFOR take measures to ensure the return of ethnic Albanian residents to the northern part of the town. Local UN Administrator Sir Martin Garrod promised the protesters that "Mitrovica will not be a divided city," an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported.

For the Albanian delegation, Shyqyri Kelmendi, an advisor of Bajram Kelmendi, the provisional government's prefect for Mitrovica, said that the international community has finally understood that this problem needs a serious solution: "[We need] a concrete plan from Mr. Garrod. A plan that he will present to us within two days, which will be possible to implement, and which addresses every question."

Halit Berani, the head of the local Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, said that there are 6,500 ethnic Albanians living under very difficult circumstances in the northern part of Mitrovica because they do not enjoy freedom of movement. He charged that the French soldiers with their "one-sided approach" are aggravating the partition of Mitrovica: "The Serbs manage to block all roads, to kill Albanians, and to block the bridge across the river Iber with the help of French soldiers." Berani added that 18 Albanians and two Serbs have been killed since the arrival of international forces in Mitrovica.

Meanwhile, representatives of the peacekeeping forces announced at a press conference in Prishtina that Serbs blocked a road six km north of Mitrovica yesterday, which leads to a village inhabited mostly by ethnic Albanians. Danish KFOR troops broke up the roadblock. On the same day, unidentified persons opened fire on Russian KFOR soldiers near Kamenica. The Russians returned fire, but no injuries were reported.

KOSOVARS PROTEST ARREST OF UCK LEADER. About 2,000 ethnic Albanians gathered outside UN offices in Gjakova on 12 September to protest against the arrest of an unnamed local Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) commander, AP reported. KFOR recently arrested the man on unspecified criminal charges. Elsewhere, unidentified attackers fired shots at a Russian checkpoint but no casualties were reported.

Zoran Andjelkovic, who was Serbia's governor of Kosovo until the deployment of KFOR, told the state-run Tanjug news agency that including "some members of the terrorist UCK into a civilian force [in Kosovo] would be a direct violation of [UN Resolution 1244]." Meanwhile, General Vladimir Lazarevic, who was a commander in Kosovo during the war, claimed in an interview with Radio B2-92 that the UCK has "handed over some antiquated...weapons [to peacekeepers] but obtained, under KFOR guidance, new heavy weaponry." He did not provide evidence of his claim.

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