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Sunday, June 13, 1999 Published at 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK


World: Europe

Turmoil as Kosovo changes hands

Evidence of ethnic cleansing has been found by Nato

More than 9,000 Serb civilians have crossed into Montenegro from Kosovo in the past few days.

They are leaving from towns throughout Kosovo, and many saying they do not trust Nato assurances that its peacekeepers will be even-handed with Serbs and Albanians.

A journalist from Agence France Presse says he saw thousands of Serb civilians on the road between Macedonia and the Kosovo capital Pristina fleeing from ethnic Albanian guerrillas.


[ image: Kosovo Albanian anger towards Serb military boiled over in Prizren]
Kosovo Albanian anger towards Serb military boiled over in Prizren
One of the Serbs, from the village of Musutiste, said the KLA killed five people there by shooting into the village.

BBC Correspondent Jeremy Cooke, also saw hundreds of Serb civilians travelling between southern Kosovo and Pristina. He said they were mainly peasants travelling in tractors and trailers.

Our correspondent says it was a scene reminiscent of the flight of ethnic Albanians who fled from the Yugoslav army and Serb paramilitary forces earlier this year.

Germans intervene

In Prizren in western Kosovo, ethnic Albanians taunted Yugoslav forces for losing the conflict, leading to a tense confrontation before German peacekeeping troops intervened.


The BBC's Jeremy Bowen reports on a tense first day for German peacekeepers in southern Kosovo
The Yugoslav forces were crossing the city on their way out of Kosovo, but were blocked by ethnic Albanians chanting "Nato, Nato" and calling for Serbs to give back stolen property.

Other members of the retreating Yugoslav military burned houses on the outskirts of Prizren.

Later in the day there reports of a heavy exchange of fire betewen the Germans and Serb snipers, after the Serbs fired shots into the crowd.

Three Serb soldiers were reported to have been killed in the exchange.

Evidence of cleansing

UK soldiers setting up a camp near Lipljan to the south of Pristina saw a "huge pile" of ripped up identity cards and passports.

Our correspondent in the area says they were probably confiscated from ethnic Albanians earlier in the conflict.

He says this is the first discovery of what could be many more, and perhaps much grimmer, discoveries as Nato opens up Kosovo.

The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, has been informed and is expected to investigate.

KLA 'kills 3'

Kosovo Albanian guerrillas opened fire on Yugoslav Army troops in the Pristina suburb of Vranjevac, killing a Serb policeman and two soldiers, Serb media reported.


[ image: Anxious Serbs flee in scenes reminiscent of Albanian exodus]
Anxious Serbs flee in scenes reminiscent of Albanian exodus
"These murders have reported by the Yugoslav authorities to the K-For commander General Michael Jackson, who promised that the peacekeeping troops will do everything to arrest the attackers," the reports added.

The reports said that the guerrillas opened fire on a private car in the same neighbourhood, killing a civilian. The attackers are said to be located in the school in Vranjevac.

Russian 'reinforcements'

More than 100 Russian troops in a 60-vehicle convoy are waiting near the Bosnian border with Yugoslavia, according to a spokesman for the Nato-led Stabilisation Force (S-For) in Bosnia said.

The spokesman told the French news agency it was a clear sign that Russia's senior officer in Bosnia intended to deploy the troops into Kosovo to re-supply Russian troops who stole a march on Nato peacekeepers late on Friday.

The 1,350-strong Russian brigade serving with S-For is based in north-east Bosnia and is not under direct S-For command.



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