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Monday, July 20, 1998 Published at 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK


Serbian media sees Tirana's hand in Kosovo

An ethnic Albanian fighter runs for cover in Orahovac

The escalation of fighting in Kosovo has been accompanied by Serbian media accusations that the authorities in Tirana are turning a blind eye to gun-running to the province from Albania.

The Belgrade-based Tanjug news agency reported on Monday that prosecutors in Pec, western Kosovo, had brought charges against six Albanian citizens for illegally crossing into Yugoslavia and supplying the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) with weapons.

Earlier, Serbian television said border troops were carrying out mopping up operations against "the remnants of the large terrorist group which was routed" near the Djeravica border post.

"Some members of the routed terrorist group who refused to surrender to the Yugoslav army's border units retreated to the Republic of Albania, from where they have been trying to cross into Kosovo.

"They are constantly changing the locations to enter our country," the report said.

Yugoslav border troops seized more than 10 tonnes of weapons in the operation, including about 300 rifles, 60 machine guns, around 10 recoilless guns and mortars, the television said.

Signs of change in US view

A commentary on Serbian radio said there were signs that the United States was beginning to understand Belgrade's position on the crisis, and admit that the "terrorists" in Kosovo were being supplied from Albania and the West.

"The Pentagon has admitted to misconceptions about the reasons for the crisis in Kosovo and Metohija, and the CIA has admitted that it knew for some time that Albanian terrorists in Kosmet were procuring weapons from neighbouring Albania and West European countries," the radio said.

"This is the first step towards the United States finally admitting that terrorism, pure and simple, is at work in Kosovo and Metohija, rather than rebels seeking justice for the Albanian national minority."

But the commentary accused the West of having encouraged the activities of the rebels in Kosovo - whom the radio dismissed with the derogatory term "Shiptar terrorists" - by using sanctions and threats against Belgrade.

"The mentors of the Albanian secessionists and terrorists in Kosovo were able to come to the same conclusion that Serbia was aware of from the very start.

Namely, the West's overall treatment of Serbia and the Federal Reoublic of Yugoslavia (FRY) has fed terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija, starting with the introduction of economic sanctions for Serbia."

The radio said Serbia's arguments about the "real reasons for the escalation of Shiptar secessionism and terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija are far more convincing than the fabrications about Serbia's alleged violation of human rights and liberties" in the province.

Kosovo guerrillas no different from other 'terrorists'

The radio insisted that Serbia would "never, under any circumstances, reconcile itself to the secession of Kosovo and its annexation to Greater Albania, or with giving Kosovo the status of the third federal unit in the FRY."

"Shiptar terrorists cannot be Serbia's collocutors, and any attempt to win this status for them would mean violating the basic principles of world peace.

"Terrorism in Kosovo must be both suppressed and destroyed ... surely Shiptar terrorists are no better than terrorists in Corsica, the Basque provinces, or in Northern Ireland?" the radio said.

Police 'looting ethnic Albanians' homes'

Meanwhile, the pro-ethnic Albanian Kosovo Information Centre accused Serbian police of looting Albanian houses in the village of Lismir, near Fushe Kosova.

It cited "local sources" who said 17 Albanians, mostly elderly people, had been mistreated by police.

All the other Albanians had fled their homes in the village.

"Serb forces have been reported in looting sweeps, with appliances, household items and also domestic cattle being taken away by Serbs," the report said.

One of the ethnic Albanians, 46-year-old Mehmet Obertinca, was assaulted by five Serb policemen and suffered serious injuries, the report added.

Police reinforcements head for Kosovo The independent Belgrade-based news agency Beta reported that police reinforcements were being sent to Kosovo.

Sources close to the Yugoslav Interior Ministry, quoted by the Belgrade daily Danas, said the police officers were very experienced, mostly heads of Interior Ministry departments, Beta reported.

"The same source claims that the reinforcements are being deployed because the Kosovo Liberation Army is expected to attack Pristina and Gnjilane, the only towns in Kosovo where there have been no armed conflicts as yet," Beta said, citing the newspaper report.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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