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Friday, January 29, 1999 Published at 17:57 GMT

World: Europe

New killings in Kosovo

Monitors have cast doubt on the Serbian account of events

By Jacky Rowland in Pristina

International monitors in Kosovo say 24 people have been shot dead in the village of Rugovo, in western Kosovo.

Kosovo Section
International monitors who travelled to the village in Western Kosovo found bodies, masks and weapons strewn across the ground.

Eleven bodies - some of them dressed in uniform bearing insignia of the Kosovo Liberation Army - were found shot dead in a mini-bus.

The other bodies were on the ground next to the bus, or in a nearby shed.

The semi-official Serbian media centre in Pristina said security forces went to Rogovo in the early morning after ethnic Albanian rebels killed a police officer.

Confusion over identity

The media centre said a clash followed in which about 20 rebels were shot dead.

The international monitoring mission initially cast doubt on this version of events, pointing out that many of the dead were in civilian clothes.

But television pictures of the incident show men wearing KLA badges or carrying KLA identity cards.

This is the largest number of people to be killed in a single incident in Kosovo since the massacre of 45 people in the village of Racak two weeks ago.

Coming on the same day as the contact group's ultimatum to Serbs and ethnic Albanians, the killings add urgency to international demands for a political solution to the crisis.

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