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Wednesday, September 30, 1998 Published at 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK


World: Europe

Massacre evidence in Kosovo

Diplomats have been looking into evidence of massacres

BBC journalists have seen first-hand evidence of a massacre of ethnic Albanian civilians, including women and children, in Kosovo.


David Loyn sees evidence of atrocities
Local villagers said the killings had been carried out by Serbian police.

Eighteen people were killed with knives, or shots to the head. Some were mutilated. Two had been decapitated.

One child survived, protected by the body of its mother.


[ image: The dead had hurried burials, with graves marked only by their shoes]
The dead had hurried burials, with graves marked only by their shoes
Correspondent David Loyn says those who died were refugees who had been living in makeshift shelters in the village of Gornje Obrinje.

The leader of the British Liberal Democrat Party, Paddy Ashdown, who is visiting Yugoslavia, said he saw "weapons of total war" being used against villagers by Serbian forces fighting pro-independence ethnic Albanians.

He said what was happening in Kosovo may amount to genocide.

Withdrawal claims dismissed

Ethnic Albanians in the province have dismissed statements made by Yugoslav leaders that the offensive against them is over.


[ image:  ]
Serb and Yugoslav officials say their forces are withdrawing from Kosovo. But ethnic Albanians argue that the withdrawals are actually troop rotations.

They say the troop movements are an attempt to deflect threatened Nato air strikes against Serbia.

Western journalists reported that a large column of vehicles and tanks had been seen moving towards barracks in the provincial capital, Pristina.

But other reports from correspondents in Kosovo said Serb forces had continued to attack ethnic Albanian civilians.

Pentagon watching and waiting


[ image: Yugoslavia's armed forces: Which way are they moving?]
Yugoslavia's armed forces: Which way are they moving?
The US Government says it has seen no evidence of Serb authorities keeping to their withdrawal promise.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Michael Doubleday said: "It's probably going to be a day or two before we can make a full assessment as to whether any of the statements had any meaning at all."

Diplomats from the Contact Group on former Yugoslavia consisting of the US, Russia and several European powers, have travelled to Kosovo to look into reports of civilian massacres.

A UN resolution, voted on last Thursday, calls for a ceasefire in Kosovo and warns the Yugoslav Government of "additional measures" against it if it fails to comply.

Belgrade says the resolution has "no judicial or political basis," but on Monday the Serbian Prime Minister, Mirko Marjanovic announced that government forces were returning to barracks.

On Tuesday the Pentagon said a list of American military units to be put at Nato's disposal for any intervention in Kosovo would be ready "in the coming days".



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