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Friday, October 2, 1998 Published at 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK

World: Europe

UN condemns Kosovo atrocities

The massacres have accelerated moves towards military action

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the massacres of ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo, and called on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to punish those responsible.

The BBC's Eileen Wheelan reports on the Security Council meeting
At least 36 ethnic Albanian civilians are reported to have been massacred in three separate incidents. Serb forces have been accused of carrying out the killings.

The council also expressed alarm that fighting was continuing despite demands it cease and that thousands of civilians were still being forced to leave their homes.

But it postponed discussion on any possible military action against Serbia until early next week, to allow it to consider a report by the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, on whether Belgrade has complied with UN demands for a ceasefire in the province.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock: "We... got what we aimed to achieve"
Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, says he does not expect the report to be positive and that military action may well be needed.

"It looks as though Milosevic will only understand the use of force or the threat of the use of force. That is what we are now preparing - if it's necessary, we'll use it," he said in a BBC interview.

Rob Watson: "Perhaps some internal disagreement"
But the BBC UN correspondent, Rob Watson, points out that the Russians are insisting it should be the Security Council - where they possess a veto - and not Nato, that takes the final decision on whether military action is used.

But he says Western diplomats are hinting that Nato may be prepared to act either with or without the UN's blessing.

Americans urged to leave Serbia

Meanwhile, the US Government has advised Americans in the Yugoslav Federation to leave because of possible Nato military action against Serbia.

"American citizens should not travel to the region and those who are in Serbia and Montenegro should consider leaving the country," said State Department spokesman James Rubin.

[ image: The UN has demanded an immediate ceasefire]
The UN has demanded an immediate ceasefire
Nato has asked member states to confirm the aircraft they would provide for any action and their state of readiness.

More than 10 countries have committed aircraft so far.

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has made clear that Western powers still hope Milosevic would agree to negotiations and accept the conditions outlined by both the United Nations and Nato.

"The combined threat of the use of force and diplomacy is the best way of proceeding," Mrs Albright said.

But Secretary of Defence, William Cohen, asked when Nato military strikes could begin, said bluntly: "Soon."

Tony Blair: "We have to send the strongest possible message"
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the diplomacy alone was not enough to end the crisis.

"We have to send the strongest possible message to Milosevic that we will not tolerate any more of these atrocities," he said.

Serbs deny massacres

David Loyn: BBC accused of laying ground for western air raids
Belgrade has denied responsibility for two cases of atrocities, and says its military operation against ethnic Albanian separatists is over.

In particular, the outspoken Deputy Prime Minister, Vojislav Seselj, accused the BBC of being part of a conspiracy to harden public opinion in the West, and warned of reprisals around the world if Nato forces attacked Serbia.

A Serb television report described the BBC accounts of atrocities committed by police in Kosovo as lies and manipulation.

Third atrocity

The comments from Belgrade came after the emergence of evidence of a third Kosovo massacre this week.

[ image: Graves were marked only by shoes]
Graves were marked only by shoes
Four men were slaughtered when Serb security forces ambushed a convoy of Albanian refugees in south-western Kosovo, according to Human Rights Watch.

A monitor from the group said one man appeared to have been shot at close range and another had had his nose cut off.

Earlier the bodies of 18 ethnic Albanians were found in the central Kosovo village of Gornje Obrinje and another 14 corpses were located in Vucitern.

Local people said the killings were carried out by Serbian police.

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