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Monday, April 12, 1999 Published at 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK


World: Europe

Nato urged to target Serbs on border

Nato is about to boost its military resources in Albania

The Albanian government has called for Nato military strikes against Serb artillery positions within range of its border with Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
The calls comes amid increasingly heavy cross-border shelling between separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters and Serb forces.

The Albanian Interior Minister, Petro Koci, who made the appeal, accused Yugoslavia of trying to widen the conflict in Kosovo.

However the Yugoslav authorities accuse Albania of allowing KLA fighters to infiltrate into Kosovo across the border.

The heightened tension comes a day after the Albanian government handed control of its air space and ports to the Nato commanders.

Mortar fire


Paskal Milo: "We need a long-term solution to the Kosovo question"
International monitors on the border say the border clashes, which began on Friday, are becoming much heavier.

On Sunday, mortar bombs fired by Serb forces killed two civilians in a northern Albanian village of Tropoje.


[ image: The UK is sending extra Harriers]
The UK is sending extra Harriers
Andrea Angeli, spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the frontier, said nine people were also injured in the mortar-fire which struck a police headquarters and a residential neighborhood.

Earlier in the day, Albania reported 10 mortars had landed near the village of Kremica on its side of the border.

Mr Koci said the situation in the north of the country was now very tense.

Serb accusations

The Serbs also reported shells fired from Albania had landed on their side of the border.

The Serbian news agency Tanjug said the Serbs had repelled an incursion by groups of "terrorists", the term it uses to describe the KLA, into Kosovo.

A Yugoslav army officer on the border told Serb television that larger and larger units of the Kosovo rebel army were trying to infiltrate Kosovo from Albania.

The officer accused Nato of supporting the KLA and pressing its fighters to cross over into Yugoslavia.

Key training ground

Northern Albania has been a key training and supply base for the KLA throughout the 14-month conflict in the province.


[ image: Refugees jostle for food at Kukes near the Albanian border]
Refugees jostle for food at Kukes near the Albanian border
Many of its soldiers have died crossing the border to bring weapons into Kosovo or fleeing back to Albania with Yugoslav forces in pursuit.

Now Albania has become a major staging ground for Nato action against Yugoslavia.

The Albanian Government has handed control of its air space, ports and military installations to support the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

The Albanian Foreign Minister, Paskal Milo, announced the handover of powers to Nato during a live link-up from the capital Tirana to a UK Ministry of Defence news conference in London on Sunday.

Nato is in the final planning stages of Operation Allied Harbour, a mission to send 8,000 troops to help relief agencies care for an estimated 300,000 refugees in Albania.



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