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Thursday, April 15, 1999 Published at 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK


World: Europe

Eyewitness: Albania's lawless borderland

Injured KLA fighters say they were hurt in clashes inside Albania's borders

Jeremy Bowen reports from the KLA stronghold of Kamenica near the Albanian-Kosovo border:

Kosovo: Special Report
Yugoslav forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army are battling for control along the border between northern Albania and Kosovo.

Both refugees from Kosovo and local residents are fleeing the area around Kamenica, which lies within earshot of Serbian shelling.

Although the Kosovo Liberation Army rarely allows outsiders to see their wounded fighters, on this occasion, they allowed a brief visit.


[ image:  ]
From a hospital in Kamenica, one of the most remote places on the Albanian side of the border, injured men from one KLA unit told their story.

They said they had been wounded by Serb shells exploding inside Albanian territory as they tried to help refugees to safety.


Jeremy Bowen in Albania: "The Serbs were shelling as we went towards Kamenica"
One man said that the KLA fighters wanted Nato to destroy the Serb tanks and heavy equipment.

They said they would do the rest for themselves.

Few refugees from Kosovo are left in the surrounding area.


[ image: Local hill farmers are leaving for lower, safer ground]
Local hill farmers are leaving for lower, safer ground
Most have gone because they are scared of the violent Albanian gangs who run local towns.

Humanitarian aid is not the main problem - this area was falling apart before the war, the chaos turned into anarchy.

Local Albanians - poor hill farmers - are driving their animals down to lower, safer ground to escape the fierce battle that has been happening on both sides of the border for the last four days.

BBC correspondent attacked


[ image: And other residents are taking to concrete bunkers]
And other residents are taking to concrete bunkers
After filming, we had a taste of what life is like in the area.

On the way out, our cars were stopped by two masked men armed with assault rifles.

Around a dozen rounds were fired over the tops of the cars and the gunmen stole BBC equipment and a large sum of money.

Gun law has been on the rise in remote parts of Albania for years, but in the current circumstances, civil order in the mountains is disintegrating even further.



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