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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 18:33 GMT

World: Europe

'20 killed in Kosovo massacre'

The Kosovan village of Jankovic under attack by the Serbs

The United Nations has expressed grave concern about the safety of civilians in Kosovo, from where there have been reports of a massacre of 20 men by Serb forces.

Kosovo: Special Report
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says it received reports that the ethnic Albanian men had been killed in the village of Goden, near Dobrune, on the Kosovo-Albanian border.

UN humanitarian agencies withdrew from the Serbian province before the Nato bombing campaign started and concern is growing for the safety of people left behind.

The BBC's Claire Doole: "Concern is mounting"
The massacre was reported to border officials by a group of 174 refugees, who said that Serb forces had attacked the village on Thursday.

They said the forces had separated the men and women and rounded them up in front of the village school, before setting fire to it and the surrounding houses.

The refugees said their men were then executed, and they were ordered to leave.

[ image: The massacre is reported to have happened in Goden, near Dobrune]
The massacre is reported to have happened in Goden, near Dobrune
The UNHCR is unable to confirm the reports of the massacre.

A spokeswoman said the refugees had arrived in Albania with no personal belongings, and that some had fled barefoot.

Paul Wood: Tension in Kosovo is mounting as air-strikes continue
There were only 10 men among the group of women and children.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, has appealed for all sides in the conflict to stop attacking civilians.

'Civilians surrounded'

Albanian journalists have reported that the attacks against Kosovo Albanians intensified as the Nato air strikes continued into a second night on Thursday.

Kosovo Albanians say there has been heavy fighting west of Pristina and that 20,000 civilians were surrounded by tanks in the northern village of Qirez.

But Serbian reports say the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army has been using the cover of Nato strikes to launch attacks on Serbian positions.

Albanian journalist Ekrem Krasnici: "The situation is out of control"
Albanian Information Minister Musa Ulqini said the latest killings in Goden and the village of Zylfaj, also near Dobrune, were a "terrible massacre".

"These two villages no longer exist, because they have been razed to the ground by artillery shells," he said on Albanian television.

There has been no independent confirmation of the attacks.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Macedonia: "There have been frequent reports from the KLA"
Journalists are unable to substantiate the reports as access to Kosovo is now banned.

Brussels-based Albanian journalist Ekrem Krasnici told the BBC there had been numerous reports of fresh Serb offensives flooding from the province since the Nato air strikes began.

"(The attacks) are just like 12 months ago," he said. "There is clearly an uncontrolled situation in the majority of the villages and cities in Kosovo."

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