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Yugoslavia: Serbs Continue Offensive, Endangering Kosovar Refugees

Pristina, 11 August 1998 (RFE/RL) - The Pristina-based ethnic Albanian Kosovo Information Center (KIC) says Serbian military and police troops backed by tanks and heavy weapons launched a full-scale offensive today against three ethnic Albanian villages near Decani, in western Kosovo. Tens of thousands of displaced Albanians, mainly from Decani, Pec, Malisevo and Djakovica, are reported camped out around the village of Rznic, just west of Decani.

A local spokesman, Osman Cacaj, of the mainstream ethnic Albanian Democratic League of Kosovo told KIC by telephone that the local Albanian population is in danger of being massacred unless the Serbian offensive is brought to a halt.

The insurgent Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), in a statement distributed today to Albanian-language news media in Kosovo, says the latest Serb offensive "has only strengthened the UCK's resolve to continue on the road to freedom."

The statement warns NATO not to deploy its troops on the Albanian-Serbian border -- the main route of arms supply for the insurgents. UCK says it would perceive NATO engagement as a "second offensive against our freedom and our national pride."

In the Albanian capital Tirana meanwhile, the Albanian Interior Ministry said today some 70 ethnic Albanians crossed the border from Kosovo province into northern Albania in the past 24 hours, including two badly wounded UCK insurgents.