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Saturday, 12 May, 2001, 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK
Fighting returns to southern Serbia
Serbia-Kosovo border near Presevo
The fire was aimed at Yugoslav army positions
The Yugoslav army says ethnic-Albanian guerrillas have fired at three villages near Presevo, in southern Serbia.

An army spokesman said more than 100 mortar bombs fell in the barrage, which was aimed at army positions in the villages and went on through much of the afternoon.


This is yet more proof that the Albanian side does not respect the declared ceasefire

Yugoslav Deputy Interior Minister Milisav Markovic
The spokesman, Colonel Velizar Jovanovic, said Yugoslav army forces had not responded.

The Presevo valley - close to both Macedonia and Kosovo - was the scene of heavy fighting with ethnic-Albanian guerrillas earlier this year.

A ceasefire signed in March has been reportedly broken several times.

Colonel Velizar Jovanovic told reporters that the Albanian rebels "fired more than 100 82-millimetre mortar bombs on villages located north of Presevo".

He added that the fire came from a distance of between one and five kilometres (between 0.6 and three miles).

The spokesman said rebel activities were ongoing in the evening.

Meeting cut short

Belgrade B-92 radio reported that the attacks stopped short a meeting between Yugoslav Deputy Interior Minister Milisav Markovic and representatives of ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia.

They were reportedly discussing an agreement on creating a humanitarian zone in two villages (Lucane and Turija) in Bujanovac - one of three municipalities with substantial numbers of ethnic Albanians.

"This is yet more proof that the Albanian side does not respect the declared ceasefire and, on the contrary, it is trying in every possible way to provoke attacks for which to later blame the security forces," Mr Markovic said.

Yugoslav troops have taken control of most of the buffer zone along the Kosovo border, as part of a Nato-backed effort to stop the ethnic-Albanian rebels using the area to launch attacks inside Serbia.

The attacks have continued despite a ceasefire and peace talks mediated by Western officials.

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See also:

26 Mar 01 | Europe
Yugoslavia beefs up buffer force
26 Mar 01 | UK Politics
UK troops to boost Macedonian security
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