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Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Published at 00:53 GMT 01:53 UK

World: Europe

Kosovo war widens

US paratroopers arrived in Albania on Monday

The war in Kosovo is beginning to spill over into neighbouring countries, with Albania and Croatia reporting aggressive action by Yugoslav troops on their borders.

Kosovo: Special Report
Serb forces have also extended their ethnic cleansing operations to villages inside Montenegro, Nato has said.

International observers said Yugoslav and Albanian troops exchanged fire on the border on Tuesday - the first clash between the two armies since the start of the Kosovo crisis nearly four weeks ago.

BBC Correspondent Jeremy Bowen: Clashes were initially intense
A spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Andrea Angeli, said border monitors witnessed the skirmish near the Quafe E Prushit outpost.

One Albanian soldier was reported injured.

'Yugoslav incursion'

Croatia earlier complained to the UN that at least 200 Yugoslav soldiers had crossed from Montenegro - Serbia's junior partner in federal Yugoslavia - into a disputed, demilitarised zone monitored by the UN.

[ image:  ]
The Prevlaka peninsular, on the Croatian-Montenegrin border, commands the entry to Kotor Bay, where an important Yugoslav naval base is located.

The Croatian ambassador to the UN, Ivan Simunovic, called on the Yugoslav forces to withdraw immediately.

UN monitors withdrew when the Nato bombing began. 'Ethnic cleansing spreads to Montenegro'

At the same time, Yugoslav army troops based in Montenegro have closed a border crossing with Croatia which was until recently controlled by the Montenegrin police.

Nicholas Witchell: "Little sign of the Serbs being deterred from ethnic cleansing"
As tension between Serbia and Montenegro mounts, the Yugoslav army is also reported to have demanded control of the Montenegrin police force.

Meanwhile, Nato has accused Serb forces of taking their campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo onto Montenegro.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea said on Tuesday that villages close to the border with Kosovo had been attacked in recent days, in what he called "new and distressing'' developments.

Montenegro has increasingly sought to distance itself from the policies of President Milosevic.

Milisav Paic: "An attempt to demonise Yugoslavia"
But Yugoslav Foreign Ministry adviser Milisav Paic told the BBC that the Nato statement was an attempt "to fabricate events in order to demonise Yugoslavia".

At a Nato briefing, Mr Shea said upwards of 100,000 ethnic Albanian men of fighting age were unaccounted for in Kosovo. Reports from refugees suggested more than 3,500 had been executed, he added.

Mr Shea said the Serb strategy appeared to be to drive people to the south of Kosovo, herding them near to the border, but not allowing them to cross.

Macedonia border reopens

The Macedonian authorities, meanwhile, have allowed the United Nations to start transporting some 7,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from the country's border zone with Kosovo.

The refugees had been stranded in a no-man's land between the frontiers without food and blankets since Monday night.

Macedonia had refused them entry, saying that the existing reception camps are already overcrowded.

However the border was opened after talks between the UN refugee agency and Macedonian officials.

In another development, the UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said the UK would allow the largest-ever release of intelligence information in order to assist war crimes investigations.

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