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Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK

World: Europe

KLA: 'We take care of refugees'

The KLA is playing a pivotal role in protecting thosands of refugees

Kosovo: Special Report
The KLA, the Kosovo Albanian separatists who have been fighting Serb forces for more than a year, have been out of the public eye since the start of the Nato air strikes.

In a rare interview, the KLA official for the north and east of Kosovo, Lirak Cela, has been speaking to the BBC World Today programme's Claire Bolderson about the role of his force during the last week.

Is the KLA protecting refugees?

KLA leader Lirak Cela talks to the BBC's World Today radio programme
KLA leader Lirak Cela: We are mostly doing a defence war right now because we are not in a position to have a big offensive. All the territory is full of refugees.

Just in the territory where I am, we have at least 60,000 refugees, so we have to take care of them with food and with medicine.

BBC presenter Claire Bolderson: Are you able to protect those refugees from further attack?

Lirak Cela : Well, I think those who are in our territory, we can. We are worried very much with citizens who are still in Pristina and the other cities, because we don't have forces there.

Claire Bolderson: There have been many reports that a lot of the people who are making it out of Kosovo are women and children. Do you know what is happening to the men?

Lirak Cela : I spoke with a woman refugee who told me that she was in a truck with her family and her husband was driving the truck.

But police stopped them and they said that women and children could go on but the driver, that means her husband, and the truck must stay there.

We have heard a lot of these stories, and we think that the men have been executed or they have been put in a kind of camp.

Is the Nato action helping?

Claire Bolderson: This is a terrible situation now in Kosovo. Do you think that the Nato bombings were a good idea and should they continue?

Lirak Cela : Yes I think they should continue and maybe intensify them. Of course, I think it would be good if they could send in ground troops.

Or if they can help us with the weapons and the ammunition, then maybe we could do it ourselves.

Claire Bolderson: What help are you getting at the moment from the West? The United States and Nato, what help are they giving you?

Lirak Cela : The air strikes - this is the only help that we get right now. We are expecting more maybe.

Claire Bolderson: What has happened to the Rambouillet agreement. The agreement that Mr Milosevic was told he must sign?

Lirak Cela : After all this massacres, this agreement doesn't work any more.

Claire Bolderson: Do you think there is a strong possibility that Kosovo may be partitioned - perhaps with Serbs taking over one part of it, and the ethnic Albanians having another part.

Lirak Cela : I think this is what the Serbs are aiming for. I can see this from the cities that are empty now - these belong to a part that they are aiming to keep for themselves.

But we will not allow that even if they kill all of us. I am sure that we will not, and the West will not allow this too.

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