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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK

World: Europe

US accused over Serb deaths

Yugoslav officials say the US is developing "an industry of death"

The Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, has blamed the US and Nato for the deaths of 15 people found in graves in Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
The bodies were unearthed last month near the village of Ugljare, but the discovery was made public only this week.

Only four have so far been identified as Serbs.

In a statement, President Milosevic said the victims had been abducted from their homes in the American sector of Kosovo.

"This crime was committed under the auspices of the United Nations," he said, adding that the US was developing "an industry of death" in Kosovo.

'No signs of massacre'

Yugoslavia is calling for the international peacekeeping force, K-For, to give better protection to the Serb community.

But K-For said there had been no signs that a massacre had taken place.

"So far, it has not been possible to confirm exactly when they died, although it is likely to have been after the arrival of Nato forces," said a K-For statement.

The bodies were found in two graves 600 metres apart. Autopsies have been carried out and the bodies which have been identified were buried on Thursday in their home villages near the city of Gnjilane.

[ image: Soldiers arrest a man during the protest by Serbs]
Soldiers arrest a man during the protest by Serbs
Serbs staged a protest on Thursday just outside Gnjilane, blocking a main road and demanding that peacekeepers find two local men believed to have been abducted by ethnic Albanians.

The protesters dispersed after Russian and US troops said everything possible was being done to find the men. One demonstrator was arrested for allegedly throwing a stone at the soldiers.

Meanwhile, the blockade of the town of Orahovac continues after talks failed to break the deadlock for a fourth consecutive day.

Ethnic Albanians have used tractors, trucks and cars to block roads, preventing Russian troops from entering the town.

The soldiers are due to take over from Dutch peacekeeping forces, but the Albanians refuse to let them in, claiming Russian mercenaries fought with Serbs during the conflict in Kosovo.

'Inconclusive but successful'

A German representative at the talks, General Wolfgang Sauer, was not too disappointed that discussions had been inconclusive as the Serbs and Albanians had actually met each other.

"Both sides are considering future solutions," he said. "In that sense, the meeting was a success, although we had no concrete results."

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