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World - Europe

Serb troops cross into Albania, officials say

story


iconRELATED AUDIO
Sokol Gjoka, Albanian Foreign Ministry spokesman, on the reported Serb capture of an Albanian village

448k/23 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
 

Yugoslavia denies report

April 13, 1999
Web posted at: 1:50 p.m. EDT (1750 GMT)

TIRANA, Albania (CNN) -- Serbian troops crossed the Albanian border and briefly seized a village inside Albania after a gunbattle with border guards Tuesday, Albanian officials and international monitors said.

The international observers said the Serbs crossed back into their own territory after about 40 minutes.

But Yugoslav government spokesmen denied that troops had entered Albania.

"It's an absolutely unfounded fabrication," Foreign Ministry adviser Milisav Paic told CNN's Brent Sadler in Belgrade.

Albanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sokol Gjoka challenged the Yugoslav assertion, however.

"The infantry troops of the Serb forces have penetrated up to two kilometers (1.2 miles) inside Albania after two hours of bomb shelling on our side," he said.

In Belgrade, a Yugoslav government official accused Albania of harboring terrorists.

"Yugoslavian troops did not enter Albania," Foreign Ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic said. "On the contrary, there were 6,000 ethnic Albanian separatists and terrorists -- very well armed -- trying to infiltrate into Kosovo."

Asked about accounts from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that corroborated the reported Yugoslav attack, Vujovic said the OSCE was biased.

The attack happened early Tuesday afternoon, said Pier Gonggrijp, a field officer for the OSCE mission in Albania. He said observers were monitoring border guards' radio traffic.

"The Kemenica border post was attacked by FRY light infantry, forces who have crossed the border and were advancing toward the border post," Gonggrijp said, using the acronym for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. "We heard a short time later that the border post was taken by FRY soldiers."

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, meeting in Norway with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, said U.S officials had not been able to confirm the report.

"We have made clear within NATO, as well as the United States specifically, that the widening of this conflict by the Serbs to the other countries in the region would have serious consequences," Albright said.

Kemenica is about 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Tirana, Albania's capital. The town has been subjected to Serb artillery fire over the past several days as Yugoslavia battles the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, an ethnic Albanian guerrilla movement in Kosovo.

Albanian officials said more than 3,000 people have fled the area over the past two days.

Tim Isles, another OSCE observer, said the attack could be a reprisal for other skirmishes that have taken place in the past week. Isles said the attack should be seen in context of the KLA's ongoing battle with Serb authorities.

The KLA has spent the past year fighting for independence for Kosovo, the Yugoslav province that borders Albania.

Correspondent Brent Sadler contributed to this report

RELATED STORIES:
Albania says Serb forces cross border, occupy village
April 13, 1999
NATO hits new targets as U.S. increases fire power
April 13, 1999
Yugoslav train hit during NATO strike; 10 dead
April 12, 1999
Refugees seek peace, security outside Balkans
April 12, 1999
On Orthodox Easter, religious leaders pray for peace, goodwill
April 11, 1999
Yeltsin warns of posslible world war over Kosovo
April 10, 1999
Refugee situation improves; U.S. says some used as shields
April 10, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
  • Kosovo

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

Relief:
  • Mercy International USA
  • Donations for Kosovo Refugees
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Mercy International USA
  • Unicef USA
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • World Vision
  • CARE: The Kosovo Crisis
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Disaster Relief from DisasterRelief.org
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page


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

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