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Yugoslavia: Kosovo Rebels Release Hostages

Likovac, Yugoslavia; 13 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says that all eight Yugoslav soldiers being held captive in Kosovo by ethnic Albanian rebels have now been released. The soldiers had been held captive for five days. It was not immediately clear whether the rebels, part of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), won release of some of their own fighters as part of an agreement with the Serb side.

The head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, William Walker, said that the agreement was "fair and balanced." He did not provide any further details. Earlier in the day, it had looked as if the talks would fail as negotiations went on for several hours.

The soldiers were taken hostage on Friday amid intense fighting in northern Kosovo. The hostage-taking has prompted a buildup of Yugoslav and Serb forces in the Serbian province where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs nine-to-one.