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Saturday, 26 May, 2001, 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK
Rebel Albanian chief surrenders
File picture of Shefket Musliu (centre) and two commanders of the Liberation Army for Presevo, Medveda and Bujanovac
Shefket Musliu (centre) fought for integration with Kosovo
The head of an ethnic Albanian rebel group in the Presevo valley, in southern Serbia, has surrendered to the Nato-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo, K-For.

The commander of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, Shefket Musliu, and several associates gave themselves up at a border checkpoint between Kosovo and southern Serbia.


A K-For spokesman told the BBC that he hoped the rest of the group, which has been fighting to incorporate the region into Kosovo, would now lay down its arms.

He added that he hoped the group would return to diplomatic means to try to achieve their aims

"I can tell you that we have handed over our weapons, and that the time has come to end the war," K-For quoted Mr Musliu as saying.

Political involvement

The men were later released after they agreed to give up their armed struggle.

On Monday, Mr Musliu signed a Nato-mediated agreement with Belgrade pledging to disband his forces by the end of this month.

The Belgrade authorities have promised more Albanian involvement in local affairs.

Late last week, Serb forces took control of most of the remaining part of a buffer zone separating Kosovo from the rest of Serbia.

The area has been a base for ethnic Albanian guerrillas for the past 16 months, but there is virtually no resistance now as most of the rebels have withdrawn.

The operation to resume control of the Presevo Valley had the backing of K-For.

Nato imposed the zone at the end of its 1999 bombing campaign against Yugoslavia to protect international peacekeepers and Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

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See also:

24 May 01 | Europe
Eyewitness: Inside Presevo Valley
16 Feb 01 | Europe
Serbs die in Kosovo bus blast
29 Nov 00 | Europe
Presevo's uneasy peace
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