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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 22:56 GMT
Renewed clashes near Kosovo border
Serb police in Mackov, southern Serbia
Alert: Serb police take aim near the Kfor buffer zone
Fresh fighting has erupted along the boundary between Kosovo and Serbian-administered territory, a day after the Yugoslav Government demanded an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the actions of ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the region.

The Yugoslav Army said four of its soldiers were lightly wounded in the Presevo Valley region of southern Serbia when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at their vehicle.

The past week has seen the most serious violence in the region since last November, when four Serb policemen were killed by suspected Albanian guerillas.

The rebels are fighting for the independence of three Albanian-populated towns in a part of southern Serbia which adjoins Kosovo.

After a guerilla attack on Friday, a Yugoslav soldier died from his wounds.

Exclusion zone

Ethnic Albanian rebels
Ethnic Albanian rebels have been operating checkpoints

The rebels have been using 5km-deep military exclusion zone on the boundary, patrolled Nato-led K-For peacekeeping forces, to attack Serbian security forces.

Following the death of the Yugoslav soldier, the country's Foreign Minister, Goran Svilanovic asked the UN Security Council to hold an urgent session on the continuing violence in the region.

He said the council should take all necessary measures to halt the activities of the guerrillas, in an effort to stabilise the region.

In a statement, the Yugoslav Army said one of its units came under what it called "strong terrorist" sniper fire on Sunday morning.

It said the guerrillas fired anti-tank grenades and mortars in an attempt to prevent the Yugoslav unit from taking position on a hill.

Free hand

Belgrade has repeatedly complained that the exclusion zone, or buffer strip, along the border - imposed by Nato as part of the 1999 ceasefire agreement - has given the rebels a free hand to mount attacks on Serb troops.

But the guerillas, of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB), said the Yugoslav Army has fuelled the violence by firing shells into the exclusion zone.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, Tahir Dalipi, a rebel spokesman, accused Serb security forces "are shelling from all sides."

He said: "Even houses of the Albanians are getting shelled and as a result the civil population is fleeing."

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Europe
British K-For troops under fire
01 Jan 01 | Europe
Six Serbs taken hostage
15 Jan 01 | Europe
Kosovo boss faces tightrope walk
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