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Yugoslavia/Bosnia: Shelling In Kosovo; Vote-Counting In Bosnia; Unrest In Albania

Pristina, 16 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Serb security forces today shelled 12 villages north of Pristina, the provincial capital of Kosovo, despite signs NATO may be prepared to use force next month to stop Belgrade's crackdown on ethnic Albanians. In Bosnia, vote-counting continues after last weekend's presidential and parliamentary elections. In Albania, the government plans to take legal action against opposition leaders over this week's violence.

Serb police confirmed the Kosovo fighting, saying one of their officers was killed and four were injured yesterday. Police also said six Albanian extremists were killed in the fighting.

Associated Press quoted Serb sources as saying some 1,000 Kosovo Liberation Army fighters are in the region, where both sides reported clashes yesterday.

German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe said yesterday that if Serb attacks continue on Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority population, the West could use military force in the next three to five weeks.

Speaking on German television (ZDF), Ruehe said that the situation in Kosovo could not be considered an internal Yugoslav matter when tens of thousands of refugees have been forced to flee to neighboring countries.

Germany, along with France, Britain, Italy and the United States, would have to agree on the use of NATO force.

Meawhile in neighboring Albania, opposition leader Sali Berisha said today that government plans to take legal action against opposition leaders over this week's violence amounted to "madness" and "betrayal."

At a news conference in Tirana, Berisha also renewed his charges that Prime Minister Fatos Nano was guilty of the weekend murder of a leading member of his party. The murder of Azem Hajdari sparked some of the worst violence in Albania in 18 months. Berisha also accused Nano of trying to set up a dictatorship.

Meanwhile, the European Union today appointed Herbert Grubmayr as a new envoy to Albania charged with promoting dialogue and ending the violence. The Austrian diplomat is due in Tirana later today.

And in Bosnia, the spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) office in Sarajevo told RFE/RL today that the OSCE would respect the results of the past weekend's elections in Bosnia, whatever they may be.

Spokeswoman Nicole Szulc said: "The people have spoken in this country. Bosnia and the OSCE will respect what they said -- regardless of what they said."

Szulc was responding to charges that the OSCE yesterday had canceled publication of preliminary results in the elections for political reasons. Some Bosnian political parties and independent groups monitoring the elections said the early results favored hard-line nationalists both in Republica Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

Szulc rejected suggestions that the OSCE would not report the results fairly. She also said it would take from four to seven days to publish final results of the elections.

Bosnians voted Saturday and Sunday for three members of a joint presidency as well as a national parliament and parliaments for each half of Bosnia. Some other offices were also on the complicated and lengthy ballot.