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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 21:46 GMT 22:46 UK

World: Europe

Serbs 'execute 4,000'

Refugees are being used as human shields says the report

By US State Department Correspondent Richard Lister

The United States says Yugoslav forces may have executed at least 4,000 Kosovo Albanians in towns and villages across the province.

Kosovo: Special Report
The accusation is made in a State Department report on Yugoslav efforts to remove Albanians from Kosovo.

It details widespread allegations of mass rapes and other brutalities and concludes that up to 1.3 million Kosovo Albanians have now been displaced, including thousands who are thought to have been detained in camps inside Kosovo.

The report's authors say the extent and ferocity of the assault on the civilian population of Kosovo is unprecedented in post-war Europe.

Mass graves

The State Department account is drawn from reports by foreign governments, international organisations, refugees, combatants and the news media.

But the administration says it represents only a partial picture of the scale of the violence.

The report details some 4,000 allegations of executions in more than 70 towns and villages, and it includes satellite photographs allegedly showing mass graves in the province.

Human shields

The report says there is anecdotal evidence that an increasing number of Kosovo-Albanian women are being raped, and that in the towns of Djakovica and Pec, the abuse has been systematic, with women moved into an army camp and an hotel.

It says several thousand Kosovo Albanians are being held by Serbs at detention sites, mostly at factories, where they are being used as human shields.

Many of the allegations have already been published, but the State Department says its report is intended to be a documentary record of war crimes and crimes against humanity which can be used to hold the perpetrators responsible.

The Clinton administration has stopped short of calling Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic a war criminal, but it says it will continue to provide the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague with the information it needs to make its own judgement.

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