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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK


Troops recount horrors of violent Kosovo

The Paras have had special training to tackle the situation in Kosovo

British paratroopers have stopped an attempted rape, saved three Serbs who were being tortured and witnessed horrific acts of brutality since moving into the Kosovan capital Pristina.

The soldiers, in Kosovo as part of the K-For peacekeeping force, have told of the disturbing catalogue of incidents they have encountered in the province in the three days since they arrived.

Kosovo: Special Report
They have stopped acts of brutality being carried out by both retreating Serb troops and Albanians seeking revenge.

In one incident, the Paras were called in by locals who had seen two girls and their father snatched by Serb police in Pristina and taken to a nearby house.

The soldiers burst into the room where the girls were being held and found the policemen attempting to undress the girls in front of their father.

Para Corporal Kevin Robins said: "We went down to the house as quickly as possible where we found two machine guns outside.

[ image: Paras were among the first K-For troops into Kosovo]
Paras were among the first K-For troops into Kosovo
"We could hear noises from upstairs and we then knocked on the door and pushed it open."

Corporal Robins, from Gloucester, said the girls then ran out as he and his men tried to defuse the situation.

On Tuesday, Paras witnessed two Albanians being shot dead at close range by a gang of armed youths.

Shortly after that incident, Paras at an observation post saw two girls and their father shot dead by a sniper. The victims are thought to be ethnic Albanians.

The observation post also came under fire from the sniper, though no Paras were hurt.

[ image: The Paras are known by their famous red berets]
The Paras are known by their famous red berets
Paratroopers also helped save three men who were being tortured.

The men, all Serbs, were thrown from a moving car close to a Para patrol.

Their wrists had been tied with washing line cable, and they had broken teeth and noses.

The men, naked from the waist down, ran to the Paras for help.

Sgt Steve Jones said: "These men had been beaten and tortured and severely traumatised".

Brits in Balkans
However, officers stressed that incidents of violence were decreasing as Serb soldiers and police withdraw and Nato troops strengthen their control in the province.

A number of Kosovo Liberation Army fighters have been disarmed, amid fears of reprisals against Serb civilians.

In one incident, three cars were stopped and six KLA fighters disarmed, while earlier in the week five KLA members were arrested after a Serb civilian was shot dead.

Para captain Cameron Jack said they had reported the discovery of two bodies - one Serb and one Albanian - to the UN war crimes investigators.

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