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Saturday, May 1, 1999 Published at 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK

World: Europe

Kosovo's second city 'cleansed'

It took this family hours to cross into Macedonia at Blace on Friday

One thousand refugees an hour are crossing into northern Albania as Kosovo's second city Prizren is emptied of its ethnic Albanian population, aid officials say.

The UN refugee agency says the "final cleansing" of the southern city may be underway. By Friday night, 13,000 had flooded the border, with many more thousands on the way.

Reuters news agency, meanwhile, quotes foreign monitors as saying that an Albanian village came under fire from Yugoslav forces on Saturday.
Kosovo: Special Report
In the latest Nato action, the alliance said it had attacked transmission towers and control buildings of the Yugoslav radio relay network in seven places.

A spokesman said there had been some weather problems, but that for the second 24-hour period in a row, Nato had flown more than 600 sorties.

Kevin Connolly: "Prospects for a peace deal in the immediate future are bleak"
Reports from Serbia say that four Nato missiles struck villages near the town of Kraljevo, south of Belgrade, knocking the local television station off air.

(Click here to see a map of recent Nato strikes)

Explosions were also heard in the industrial town of Pancevo, 20km from Belgrade.

On Friday night, Montenegro TV reported that Nato attacks had damaged a bridge over the river Lim in south-east Montenegro, and killed four people. Nato said it had hit

  • three airfields
  • petrol facilities
  • bridges and radio relays
  • command facilities
  • tanks, armoured personnel carriers and military trucks in Kosovo

Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin returned to Moscow after five hours of talks with President Milosevic saying there was a "chance" of finding a solution to the Kosovo crisis.

'Not a big chance' of breakthrough

"It will be difficult to settle all political issues, but there is a chance. It's not a big chance, but a chance. I think we can't let this pass by,"

He said the talks had made "some progress" and that he had discussed sending some kind of international force into Kosovo under the control of the United Nations.

But asked whether such a force would include Nato troops - a key Western demand - Mr Chernomydrin merely said: "Let's talk about that later."

Prizren targeted

The largest exodus of Kosovar refugees for a fortnight crossed into Albania and Macedonia, apparently after the southern town of Prizren became the focus of Serb forces.

[ image: Morini crossing in Albania saw heaviest traffic]
Morini crossing in Albania saw heaviest traffic
Previously Prizren had been spared the violence seen in towns like Pec and the capital, Pristina.

Refugees arriving on Friday said Serb forces entered the town at dawn and, using megaphones, ordered the inhabitants to leave.

"Half of Prizren left their homes today," said one young woman interviewed after crossing into Albania on Friday.

Aid promised to Macedonia

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has promised further aid to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which is battling to cope with tens of thousands of refugees.

Mr Jospin did not give details of the aid, but noted that France had already airlifted 2,000 refugees out of Macedonia and planned to take more.

The Macedonian Government has demanded a major airlift by western countries, complaining that refugee now comprise one-tenth of its population.

'Let Bosnia be an example'

[ image: Arbour (left): Strong deterrent message to Serbs]
Arbour (left): Strong deterrent message to Serbs
In a separate development, the UN's senior war crimes prosecutor, speaking in Washington, said the best way to prevent atrocities in Kosovo would be to bring indicted war criminals from the war in Bosnia to trial.

"The strongest deterrent message that could have been sent into Kosovo would be the immediate apprehension, not only of the remaining indictees, but of the persons who are the subject of field indictments," Louise Arbour said.

Jackson to meet Milosevic

The veteran US civil rights campaigner, Rev Jesse Jackson, is due to meet President Milosevic on Saturday in an attempt to secure the release of three US soldiers captured a month ago on the Yugoslav-Macedonian border.

Mr Jackson met the three soldiers on Friday.

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