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Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK

World: Europe

Serbs 'take' Kosovo rebel base

Ethnic Albanian rebels: under fire by artillery

Reports from the Serbian province of Kosovo say Serb forces have captured Glodjane, a major ethnic Albanian stronghold near the Albanian border.

It followed two days of heavy fighting.

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke reports from the Kosovo front line
Serb officials said Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters, who want independence from Serbia, had put up fierce resistance.

Glodjane was "one of the strongest bases" of Albanian forces, the Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug reported. It said five policemen and two members of the Yugoslav Army had lost their lives, and more than 10 police officers had been wounded in the two days of fighting.

[ image: Serbian policemen]
Serbian policemen
A battle was also reported to be raging for the hill town of Junik, another KLA stronghold in the same area, where Serb security forces have surrounded KLA fighters for 10 days. Reports from the Kosovar Albanians say Serb forces were using helicopters and artillery.

The European Union condemned what it called "massive attacks" by Serbs on Junik.

"In this town, which has been besieged by the Serbian forces for some time, there are also over 1,000 civilians confined in the worst conditions," said EU Council President and Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schüssel.

The BBC's Jeremy Cook: "Ethnic Albanians are fighting back"
The Nato Secretary General, Javier Solana, also expressed deep concern about the continuing violence in Kosovo and the fate of civilians. He said President Milosevic of Yugoslavia bore a "heavy responsibility" for what was happening.

Nato ambassadors in Brussels have discussed plans for possible military intervention in Kosovo and said they were ready to act "swiftly and credibly" should the occasion rise.

[ image: Nato is ready to act
Nato is ready to act "swiftly and credibly"
Options included ground and particularly air power, said Mr Solana.

"Nato's military authorities have been authorised to informally approach nations on the forces which they would be ready to contribute to the possible air operations," added a Nato spokesman.

Germany has already offered 14 Tornado fighter jets for use in possible Nato air strikes on Kosovo, but any such involvement would require parliamentary backing.

Russia continues its opposition to military intervention, although it is considering taking part in Nato military exercises in Albania.

"In no way does it demonstrate a change in Moscow's position on a settlement to the Kosovo problem," said Russian defence minister Igor Sergeyev.

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