Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, April 17, 1999 Published at 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK

World: Europe

Yugoslav PoW seized

Three captured American soldiers were shown on Serb television earlier this month

A Yugoslav Army lieutenant has been captured by the Kosovo Liberation Army and handed to the US.

Kosovo: Special Report
The officer is the first member of the Yugoslav military to become a prisoner of war during the campaign.

Reports say he is being interrogated by the Pentagon.

But Nato spokesman Jamie Shea said on Saturday he would not be used for propaganda.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea: He will be treated very humanely
The officer, aged about 20, was in good condition with food and shelter, added Mr Shea. He would be protected by the Geneva Convention and would have access to mail and the right to make a complaint.

Mr Shea said he did not know why the prisoner had been given to the Americans, but added: ''He will be treated according to the most humane conditions, in the most civilized fashion.

"He's probably going to be much better looked after and much better cared for in his current situation than where he was three or four days ago."

The prisoner was seized by the KLA near Junik, close to the Albanian border, on Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

He was delivered to the Albanian Government on Friday, which turned him over to the US.

Yugoslav forces two weeks ago captured three American soldiers near the Macedonia border and are holding them as PoWs.

It is not yet known whether the US will propose a prisoner exchange.

'Soldier won't be named'

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Mike Doubleday said the soldier was in the Prva Drugi battalion commanding about 20 men.

He was involved in an operation against the KLA in an area where there are about 400 Yugoslav Army soldiers and security police.

Captain Doubleday said the soldier had been seen by the International Committee of the Red Cross and been allowed to write to his family. The ICRC has not been given access to the captured US servicemen.

The Pentagon said the soldier would not be named and would be repatriated immediately after hostilities ended.

Mr Shea added that it was not a coincidence that the soldier was seized in the same area where Nato accidentally bombed a convoy of refugees.

''This is the area where Yugoslav forces have been operating. They're trying very hard to push the KLA back from the Albanian border and that's the region where a lot of ethnic cleansing has taken place.

''This is the area where thousands of people are currently being forced out of their homes which are then systematically looted and burned by the Serbs.''

'Ground war hotting up'

Nigel Vinson of the Royal United Services Institute said it appeared the rest of the officer's force had been killed.

He said there were about 2,000 KLA fighters in the area where the soldier was seized.

''What this probabaly indicates is that the war on the ground is now hotting up,'' he added.

''The KLA in the last week or so has had large reinforcements as the ethnic Albanians have been pushed out of Kosovo ... and what we now see is a renewed campaign by the KLA.''

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

17 Apr 99 | Europe
Nato stonewalls on refugee bombings

17 Apr 99 | Europe
KLA 'gaining strength in Kosovo'

16 Apr 99 | Americas
Kosovo: The view from the US

15 Apr 99 | Europe
The Nato pilot's story

01 Apr 99 | Europe
Clinton warns Serbs over soldiers

01 Apr 99 | Monitoring
Serbian TV shows bruised US soldiers

24 Mar 99 | Kosovo
The KLA: Out from the shadows

Internet Links

Serbian Ministry of Information

Kosova Press


Institute for War and Peace Reporting


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift