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The BBC's Jim Fish
"The fighting has prompted an outflow of refugees"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jacky Rowland in Presevo, southern Serbia
"Here local Serbs do not feel reassured"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 13:32 GMT
'Ceasefire agreed' in southern Serbia
Vojislav Kostunica in south-eastern Serbia
Kostunica: Violence could set the area ablaze
Ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian government forces have agreed a deal to end weeks of clashes in southern Serbia, according to Nato officials.

A spokesman for K-For, the Nato-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo which helped broker the accord, said both sides were now prepared to resolve their dispute peacefully, after clashes in south-eastern Serbia left four policemen dead last week.

Thousands of people have fled their homes because of the fighting.

K-For soldier searches for weapons
K-For has stepped up border patrols
The spokesman said efforts were now being made to bring Serbian government officials and political leaders of the Presevo, Bujanovac and Medveda Liberation Army (UCPMB) together for more talks.

The UCPMB is said to have carried out weeks of sporadic attacks in the Presevo Valley, which it wants to incorporate into an independent Kosovo.

The ceasefire deal came a day after Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica visited the area and warned that the violence could easily set it ablaze.

He urged Nato and the United Nations to stop ethnic Albanian gunmen from killing Serb police in the border area.

Mr Kostunica said the lightly-armed Serbian police could not cope with Albanian separatists infiltrating from UN-run Kosovo.

The police and army have strengthened their presence in the past few days close to a buffer zone next to the boundary, which only local police are allowed to enter under the terms of a deal between Nato and Belgrade last year.


News of the ceasefire agreement has started to reach hundreds of Albanians leaving the area for Kosovo.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says as many as 3,000 people have crossed the border to stay with families and friends.

The International Committee for the Red Cross in Pristina is investigating reports that up to 5,000 people are making their way from Trnovac in the Presevo Valley to Kosovo.

The UNHCR says three villages close to the boundary with Kosovo are making preparations for their arrival - but there are no confirmed sightings of the group.

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See also:

27 Nov 00 | Europe
Kostunica demands Nato help
20 Oct 00 | Europe
Belgrade changes worry Kosovo
21 Sep 00 | Europe
The Kosovo factor
23 Nov 00 | Europe
Rugova aide shot dead
27 Nov 00 | Media reports
Kostunica on the needs of minorities
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