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Saturday, September 5, 1998 Published at 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK

World: Europe

Kosovo human rights in spotlight

Serb police clear a road barricaded by the KLA

A senior United States human rights official has promised to put pressure on the Serbian authorities to account for alleged human rights abuses in the province of Kosovo.

John Shattuck: "Visit to spotlight human rights crisis"
John Shattuck, the US assistant secretary of state for human rights, arrived on Friday in the province where at least 500 people have been killed and at least 230,000 displaced since fighting began seven months ago.

"My visit is to spotlight the human rights crisis that exists in Kosovo and to stress the urgency of applying international humanitarian law to the violations that appear to have occured," Mr Shattuck said.

[ image: Thousands of ethnic Albanians are living in refugee camps]
Thousands of ethnic Albanians are living in refugee camps
During his visit Mr Shattuck is expected to meet officials of both the Serb government and of ethnic Albanians who constitute 90% of the population of the province, and who are calling for independence.

"We are also here to urge a ceasefire and the withdrawal of forces on all sides," Mr Shattuck said. "The humanitarian crisis that is in the process of engulfing Kosovo needs to stopped by allowing people to return to their homes and to make the security situation far less dangerous to them."

Given the number of refugees in the province, aid workers have warned of a potential disaster if fighting continues into winter.

Mr Shattuck will be joined on Saturday by the former American senator, Bob Dole, who chairs the international commission on missing persons in the former Yugoslavia.

There are continuing reports of fighting between Serb police and the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army in the Orahovac area of western Kosovo. The Serb media centre says the police arrested 60 ethnic Albanians and took possession of large quantities of firearms.

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