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Yugoslavia: Eight Serbian Soldiers Taken Hostage In Kosovo

Pristina, 8 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says ethnic Albanian rebels in Serbia's Kosovo province took eight Yugoslav army soldiers hostage today, further escalating tensions in the region. The OSCE says the soldiers were seized in the region of Kosovska Mitrovica, northwest of the regional capital Pristina. The OSCE is currently trying to negotiate their release. Earlier today, the OSCE confirmed that three Serbian policemen were killed in Kosovo today when gunmen attacked their car at Suva Reka, about 50 kms southwest of Pristina. OSCE spokesman Sandy Blyth said three civilians who were nearby were injured. It was not clear if the injured civilians were Serbs or ethnic Albanians.

Meanwhile, Albania today accused Yugoslav military planes of violating its air space. The state-owned ATA news agency quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman as saying Yugoslav airplanes and helicopters violated its airspace twice yesterday over the northeastern districts of Kukes and Has, some 240 kms from the capital, Tirana.

Albania has said repeatedly that shooting and shelling from Yugoslav forces in Kosovo have spilled over onto its territory since the conflict with separatist ethnic Albanians flared up early last year. Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) political representative Adem Demaci held talks in Tirana yesterday with Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and President Rexhep Meidani.

Another Kosovo politician, Rexhep Qose of the Kosovo Democratic Movement, arrived in Tirana today for talks with Majko and Foreign Minister Paskal Milo.