NATO warns Serb paramilitaries to disarm or face KFOR
June 27, 1999
BRUSSELS (CNN) -- As NATO monitored the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the alliance's supreme military commander vowed that Serb paramilitaries who remained behind will also have to turn in their weapons or face KFOR action.
"In a number of locations, it's clear that Serb paramilitaries, some with connections with intelligence organizations and others, have remained behind," Gen. Wesley Clark said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Whether this is some effort to report on situations there, whether it's the seeds for a future conflict to contest control of the province, no one knows.
"But it is a violation of the MTA for these groups to be there," Clark said, referring to the military-technical agreement governing the Yugoslav withdrawal from Kosovo. "They're going to have to disarm and convert or they're going to have to leave."
The general said the KLA's demilitarization is set to begin Monday.
"They'll be putting their weapons into joint custody with KFOR forces, and I think this is a program that's timely," said Clark. "It's been well-handled thus far by KLA leadership, and we're hoping for full compliance with the undertaking they've made with NATO."
The problems of maintaining the fragile peace became more evident as NATO peacekeepers Sunday reported the shooting deaths of two people in Pristina.
KFOR officials told CNN that both victims were a man and a woman. The man was a former member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the monitoring agency that pulled out of Kosovo prior to NATO's air campaign; the woman was his interpreter, KFOR spokesman Louis Garneau said.
Both were shot outside an apartment building at close range, with eight or nine shots fired from what is believed to be two different-caliber guns. There has been no word on who may have perpetrated the attack.
The president of CARE USA said such acts of violence, especially among returning refugees and displaced persons, also poses a threat to those who are trying to provide humanitarian aid.
"We're very troubled by this news. It just underscores the fact that security for the refugees, the displaced persons, humanitarian workers needs to be a first concern," CARE president Peter Bell told CNN.
Relief workers and KFOR troops alike have their hands full after the end of NATO's 11-week bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. NATO's purpose in targeting Yugoslav troops and Serb paramilitaries was to stop what it called Yugoslavia's systematic policy of "ethnically cleansing" the Kosovo region of ethnic Albanians.
But now that Kosovo's Albanians are returning to their homes, the province's Serbs have begun to flee, fearing reprisals.
In some cases, those fears have proven true. Italian soldiers found the body of a Serb woman in Belo Polje, a burning village being looted by Albanians. The woman's mother said uniformed Albanians killed her daughter.
In other villages, widespread looting has been reported by frightened Serbs. But many of the Albanians say they are only doing to the Serbs what was done to them.
"The Serbs took everything from us and I have to have something to feed my eight children," said Gjyste Gjokaj.
Brig. Gen. John Craddock, commander of the U.S. forces in Kosovo, said his troops had been working to settle disputes between Serbs and Albanians over property ownership.
And in Kosovo's second city, Prizren, German Brig. Gen. Fritz von Korff said his troops were imposing a curfew to help control the looting and stealing that have hampered their efforts to impose order on their sector of the shattered province.
While NATO forces struggled to bring peace to a unsettled province, Yugoslavs in the country's capital made clear they were not happy with their leader, President Slobodan Milosevic.
Milosevic, who has ruled Yugoslavia with an iron hand for a decade, was the target of Belgrade soccer fans' displeasure Saturday. About 35,000 shouted slogans calling for Milosevic's resignation while gathered at a stadium for the match.
The Yugoslavs blame Milosevic for the virtual loss of Kosovo, which they consider the cradle of Serbian civilization. And NATO blamed Milosevic for bringing the air war on Yugoslavia by persisting in the "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo.
U.S. Marines kill gunman in Kosovo firefight
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