Saturday, January 9, 1999 Published at 11:55 GMT
Serbs bid to free hostages
Yugoslav troops have been sent to the hostage site
Reports from Kosovo say Serbian security forces have begun a military operation in the north of the province to free eight soldiers being held by ethnic Albanian rebels.
"The international monitors did not manage to negotiate their release. All deadlines have expired," a Serb source quoted an army officer as saying.
Two columns of Yugoslav army vehicles were seen leaving their Pristina garrison late on Friday, headed north toward Kosovska Mitrovica, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Pristina, where the soldiers are being held.
The eight were taken captive on Friday when rebels attacked a Yugoslav convoy carrying rations to troops stationed in the field.
According to the Serb Media Center, the soldiers were unharmed on Friday.
Serb authorities reacted to the incident by deploying tanks throughout the provincial capital and threatening strong measures to combat ethnic Albanian "terrorism" in Kosovo.
The three civilians were in a taxi which is thought to have been caught in crossfire.
The KLA is fighting for the independence of Kosovo, a province of Serbia, where the vast majority are ethnic Albanians.