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Thursday, March 12, 1998 Published at 14:33 GMT

World: Monitoring

Kosovo killings: Belgrade's official version of events
image: [ The bodies of those killed in the operation were laid out in a makeshift morgue ]
The bodies of those killed in the operation were laid out in a makeshift morgue

The Serbian Interior Ministry has issued a "preliminary report" on an operation by Serbian police in the southern province of Kosovo in which more than 50 ethnic Albanians, including women and children, were killed. The report expresses regret that civilians were killed, but places the blame for their deaths on "terrorists" who, it says, opened fire on police and prevented civilians from leaving the area.

Text of report by Tanjug news agency, in English

Belgrade, 11th March: The Serbian Information Ministry has published a Serbian Interior Ministry's preliminary report on its anti-terrorist action in Serbia's southern province of Kosovo-Metohija, which was adopted at the government session on Tuesday [10th March]. The report said:

Serbian Information Minister Radmila Milantijevic: This is not ethnic cleansing (Dur 0' 26")
"Several-month terrorist attacks on the area of Srbica, which have threatened the safety of traffic on many roads and brought about numerous civilian casualties, engendering a feeling of insecurity of citizens of all nationalities, have imposed the need to fully secure safe travel by setting up police outposts.

Attacks on police patrols

"In an effort to hinder the implementation of these measures, a terrorist group led by Adem Jashari attacked police patrols on 28th February, killing four policemen and injuring another two. Sixteen terrorists were liquidated in the clash.

[ image: Serbian Information Minister Radmila Milantijevic: Kosovo's Albanians must accept Serbia as their state]
Serbian Information Minister Radmila Milantijevic: Kosovo's Albanians must accept Serbia as their state
"At dawn of 5th March, a group of terrorists launched another attack on a police patrol near the village of Donje Prekaze. Following a strong police response, the terrorist group retreated to their stronghold on the Jashari family compound in the same village.

"Obeying all rules of procedure, police forces surrounded the terrorist group and invited them to surrender, while urging all other persons to clear the premises. The police gave them two hours to comply. Within the given deadline, dozens of civilians complied with the order and dispersed in safety from the terrorist stronghold.

"Terrorists" used mortars, machine guns

"After the two-hour deadline expired, Adem Jashari's terrorist group responded with fire to a repeated call for surrender, using heavy weapons - mortars, machine guns, hand grenades, automatic and sniper guns.

"The battle with the terrorists lasted 27 hours. A total of 51 people were killed. Regrettably, it was later found that members of the Jashari family, whom the terrorists prevented from leaving their stronghold, were among those killed.


"The Interior Ministry expresses regret and bitterness that these were the victims of ethnic Albanian terrorists' cruelty and ruthlessness. The police had no way of knowing if there were any civilians left with the terrorists, since dozens of them had earlier vacated the premises surrounded by the police.

[ image: Burying a victim of the Kosovo violence]
Burying a victim of the Kosovo violence
"The cruelty of A. Jashari can be also seen in the fact that he had personally killed his nephew in order to prevent him from surrendering himself.

"Two policemen were killed and another seven were seriously injured in the antiterrorist operation.

"The terrorists had a total of 67 dead in both operations, whereas in the 28th February operation several people were killed and their bodies were removed by the terrorists while the fighting was in progress.

Investigation into police action

"After the operation was completed, competent judicial bodies - the investigative magistrate in Kosovska Mitrovica in the presence of the prosecutor - carried out an investigation, and the full freedom of movement was subsequently restored in the area.

"The competent bodies are investigating allegations that the police had overstepped their authority in the operations and they will publish their findings," said the Interior Ministry's preliminary report.

Source: Tanjug news agency, Belgrade, in English 2156 gmt 11 Mar 98

BBC Monitoring (, 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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