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The BBC's Nicholas Wood in Pristina
"UN officials claim the two men took a short cut to avoid traffic"
 real 28k

Saturday, 23 September, 2000, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Serbs free two Americans

Two American United Nations workers, who were detained on Friday after entering Serbia from Kosovo, have been set free.

The arrests came ahead of the Yugoslav general elections, in which nearly eight million people will have the chance for the first time to elect their leader by popular vote.

The UN said the two environmental experts had been taking a short cut through Serbia to avoid a long border queue to get into Macedonia when they were detained.

UN officials said the men were now being driven back to the mission's headquarters in Pristina.

Tense region

The two men, whose names have not been released, went missing on Friday morning as they were driving to the Macedonian capital, Skopje, to catch a flight.

The UN said the men were arrested by Serb Ministry of Interior (MUP) police when they took a short cut in Serbia's Presevo Valley, on the border with Kosovo and Macedonia.

The Kosovo border with the Presevo Valley is patrolled by US troops who man checkpoints on all main roads in and out - with large signs warning travellers that they are about to leave Kosovo.

The Presevo Valley region has also been the scene of clashes between Albanian guerrillas and the Yugoslav military police.

The two men were released at 1500 local time following negotiations between the UN mission in Kosovo and the Serbian authorities.

The UN says the men have only recently been employed in the region, and were working on a mining complex in northern Kosovo.

Westerners in custody

It is not the first time UN staff have been arrested for illegally crossing the border.

In August, two British policement employed to train the fledgling police force in Kosovo were detained in Montenegro.

Adrian Prangnell and John Yore are still being held in Belgrade on spying charges along with two Canadians - Shaun Going and Liam Hall - who were arrested with them.

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23 Sep 00 | Europe
Row over Yugoslav poll security
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