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Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Published at 17:04 GMT

World: Europe

Eyewitness: Racak revisited

Serbian policemen - offensive in the shadow of diplomacy

By Balkans Correspondent Paul Wood:

Despite international pleas for restraint, a Serbian offensive is continuing on the ground in Kosovo. We followed special police units to the village of Racak, scene of the massacre of more than 40 ethnic Albanians, allegedly by the security forces.

Kosovo Section
With the Yugoslav army putting down cannon fire from the nearby ridge, Racak was deserted. A tearful ethnic Albanian woman told us her cattle were dying because she was too scared to go into the village to feed and water them.

[ image: An Albanian carries a table to the hills - many are hiding in the woods]
An Albanian carries a table to the hills - many are hiding in the woods
One contingent of heavily armed special police went up the hillside, advancing against positions held by the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Following a sustained gun battle, a police officer came down the hillside bleeding from a head wound.

A helicopter was called to evacuate casualties. There was said to have been one fatality on the police side.

The security forces later retreated, leaving the village. It was not clear if they had secured their objective or had been pushed back by the KLA.

Hundreds of refugees have now taken to the hills; many are living out in the open in freezing conditions and international monitors say there have been three infant fatalities overnight.

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