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World - Europe

14 Serb farmers killed in Kosovo, NATO reports

Body bags
Relatives will identify bodies at Pristina's main hospital  

Most violent incident since peacekeepers arrived

July 24, 1999
Web posted at: 5:10 a.m. EDT (0910 GMT)


In this story:

Death on a farm track

Serb villagers don't feel safe

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



GRACKO, Kosovo (CNN) -- NATO peacekeepers on Saturday were investigating the shooting of 14 Serb farmers in a field in Kosovo, the most violent incident in the province since peacekeeping troops arrived in mid-June.

The victims, all men between the ages of 20 and 60, were shot at close range Friday night, according to KFOR officials.

CNN's Nic Robertson said British KFOR forces have sealed off the area, and authorities have appealed for calm.

According to KFOR spokesman Major Jan Joosten, British troops were patrolling near the town of Lipljan at 9.30 p.m. (1930 GMT) on Friday when they heard shooting.

Tractors
The area where the bodies were found  

Death on a farm track

About 30 minutes later, they discovered the bodies of 13 Serbs who had been shot dead next to their combined harvester.

The body of a 14th Serb was discovered 150 yards (meters) away on a tractor.

The killings occurred on a rough farm track about half a mile (1 km) from the village of Gracko.

The victims' bodies were removed to Pristina hospital, officials said. British military police were leading the investigation, which was being treated as a murder probe.

KFOR says it will aggressively track the perpetrators.

Woman crying
A woman cries as she looks out towards the field where the farmers were slain  

Serb vilagers don't feel safe

"KFOR and the international police will hunt down those responsible for this awful crime. We will ensure they are brought to justice to face the full might of the law," Joosten said.

Although British KFOR forces have patrolled the area, and east of the provincial capital, Pristina, U.S. Army soldiers, members of the Task Force Falcon, 1st Infantry Btl., guard a checkpoint in Gnjilane, many residents of the Gracko area say they do not feel safe. They report that Kosovar Albanians often enter their village undeterred by peacekeeping troops.

In recent weeks, break-ins, intimidation, and even the killing of Serbs have been reported, residents said, adding that the death of the farmers represented by far the largest violent incident since peacekeeping troops arrived to restore security, following the withdrawal of Yugoslav military and police forces.

Some Serbs were planning to leave the area because of fears for their safety.

Correspondent Nic Robertson contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
KFOR commander 'encouraged' by KLA disarmament
July 22, 1999
Russians say they're in Kosovo for the long haul
July 21, 1999
Kosovo Liberation Army disarms to meet midnight deadline
July 21, 1999
Flood of Serb refugees overwhelms Yugoslavia
July 20, 1999
Kosovo peacekeepers find illegal jail, beaten prisoner
July 19, 1999
Yugoslav army chief likens protesters to 'Western vassals'
July 18, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis


Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

Relief:
  • UNICEF: Kosovo
  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International
  • UNHCR


Media:
  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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