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World - Europe

NATO says prominent Kosovo leaders executed

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Milosevic 'running out of options'

March 29, 1999
Web posted at: 10:33 a.m. EST (1533 GMT)

BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- NATO said Monday it had what is considered reliable reports that several ethnic Albanian leaders, including peace negotiator Fehmi Agani, had been executed in Kosovo.

Despite those reports, NATO insisted Monday that its bombing mission against military targets in Yugoslavia was working and that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was "running out of options."

Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Air Commodore David Wilby of Britain's Royal Air Force, said there were reports of recent executions of leading ethnic Albanian intellectuals.

"Reliable sources report that...Fehmi Agani, a member of the Kosovo Albanian delegation at (recent peace talks in Paris)...was executed on Sunday," Wilby told a news conference.

"Four other prominent ethnic Albanians were reportedly executed on Sunday, including editor-in-chief of (the ethnic Albanian newspaper) Koha Ditore, Baton Haxhiu," he added.

The NATO statement came as the United Nations refugee agency said that tens of thousands of people had fled to Albania and Macedonia in recent days.

Wilby said Milosevic had apparently developed a siege mentality and was ordering the use of helicopters, paramilitary units, the army and special police against ethnic Albanians.

He said NATO's bombing campaign was focusing on Serb military field forces that were directly involved in the crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

He said that Sunday's "major waves" of NATO attacks were aimed at "paramilitary, military and MUP (special police) forces in Kosovo."

However, he underlined that the alliance would still continue to target the Serbs' air defense system.

Under phase two of the military campaign, which is now under way, NATO warplanes are attacking Yugoslav tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons, transport vehicles and mobile command centers south of the 44th parallel, which runs through the Yugoslav town of Kragujevac, cutting the country in half.

Addressing the news conference after Wilby, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea insisted that the NATO mission "is working," despite the continued killings of ethnic Albanians.

"We're on plan, we are on timetable and we are on target," Shea told reporters..

Milosevic was "running out of options," Shea said in reference to NATO's continuing degrading of the Yugoslav forces' military capabilities.

Shea again rejected the idea that the NATO bombings were responsible for the escalation of the killings and refugee exodus of ethnic Albanians into neighboring countries such as Albania and Macedonia.

He said it appeared that the Serb offensive in Kosovo had been intensifying long before the present bombing campaign started, and that the arms buildup and increased troop deployments had been observed by the West quite some time ago.

NATO's assault against Serb military targets is aimed at getting Milosevic to accept a peace plan that calls for 28,000 NATO troops in Kosovo -- or to degrade his armed forces' capability to the extent that it cannot continue its crackdown on ethnic Albanians.

In Moscow, Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Monday ordered Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and two other officials to the Yugoslav capital Belgrade in an effort to find a way to end NATO airstrikes.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said, "the purpose of this is to coordinate such tasks which would make it possible to break the situation."


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

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
  • 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

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

Other:
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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