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World - Europe

NATO troops find charred bodies in Kosovo house

NATO peacekeepers have discovered the charred remains of at least 20 bodies in this burned house

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Focus on Kosovo

June 15, 1999
Web posted at: 8:39 a.m. EDT (1239 GMT)

In this story:

More Russian troops head to Kosovo

Defusing the airport situation

Withdrawal deadline nears

Kosovars celebrate


VELIKA KRUSA, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- NATO peacekeepers spreading out in the Serbian province of Kosovo reported another grim discovery Tuesday -- at least 20 burned bodies in a house in a deserted village.

Yugoslav forces had set the house ablaze with about 55 people inside, according to an officer of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has been seeking independence for Kosovo. Those who tried to jump out of the house were shot, the officer said.

German troops blocked off the scene in the deserted village near the Albanian border. They were waiting for investigators to look into what happened.

Eyewitnesses reported the massacre in Krushe Emadi, called Velika Krusa by the Serbs, as they crossed to Kukes, Albania, in late March and in early April. The KLA said the incident took place on March 26.

In eastern Kosovo near the Macedonian border, local residents told CNN that about 150 people were killed by Serb forces and buried at two sites -- Stari Kacanik and Kacanik.

In Stari Kacanik, villagers took journalists Tuesday to a suspected mass burial site. In a field, freshly turned dirt covered 16 mounds. The number of dead was unknown.

Residents said those buried there were killed during the same incident in April as the people whose graves were discovered at Kacanik. U.S. troops began guarding that site on Monday, pending the arrival of forensic experts.

More Russian troops head to Kosovo

More Russian peacekeepers left Bosnia and were heading Tuesday toward the airport near Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Gen. Georgy Shpak, commander of the Russian airborne forces said eight trucks and several other vehicles were transporting Russian paratroopers and supplies to the Russian soldiers already at the airport, the Interfax news agency said.

There was no word on how many Russian soldiers were in the latest deployment.

About 200 Russian troops from the Bosnia peacekeeping mission arrived at the Pristina airport before dawn Saturday -- beating NATO to the area -- and they have not allowed NATO forces to enter the airport.

Shpak said he had a telephone conversation Tuesday with the Russian units at the airport.

"The servicemen continue to reinforce the area. No incidents have been reported so far. The soldiers are in high spirits," Shpak was quoted as saying by Interfax.

The Pentagon was aware of Russian troops assembling in Bosnia for a resupply mission and expected them to take food, fuel, water and communications equipment to the soldiers at the Pristina airport.

Defusing the airport situation

Military and political leaders worked to break an impasse over the Pristina airport occupation, where the 19-member military alliance had planned to set up its headquarters.

U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin spoke for a second straight day, while NATO leaders downplayed the situation at the airport. The commander of NATO's peacekeepers, British Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson said holding the airport "is not important to me" and that a temporary KFOR headquarters had been set up west of Pristina.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she and Defense Secretary William Cohen would meet with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev in Helsinki, Finland in the coming days.

That announcement was made after Clinton and Yeltsin spoke by phone.

Jackson said he was in discussions with Russian Gen. Viktor Zavarzin about the role of 200 Russian troops occupying the Pristina air field and said he looked forward to "assimilating the Russians into KFOR."

He said he considered their surprise arrival Friday a "political matter currently being dealt with between the capitals involved."

Russian generals said paratroopers and infantry soldiers were ready to go to Kosovo when the political decision is made to send them. Russian commanders said that decision had not been made and no air corridor to move its peacekeepers had been secured.

Withdrawal deadline nears

With NATO peacekeepers surging further into Kosovo, the alliance Tuesday was continuing to monitor Yugoslav forces to see if the troops make a midnight deadline to withdraw from a southern zone of the war-torn province.

Under terms outlined last week, Yugoslav military leaders agreed to fully withdraw its forces from an area designated as Zone 1 by midnight Tuesday, or Day Six of the entire withdrawal.

The zone stretches across the southern border of the province, but juts to the north at one point to include Pristina, the Kosovo capital. It includes parts of the U.S., British, German and Italian operational sectors that each country is to monitor.

Jackson on Monday said the deployment of the NATO peacekeeping force was on schedule even while "the situation remains volatile."

Yugoslav forces were still seen throughout Kosovo but most were showing signs of withdrawing -- while some ethnic Albanian refugees were beginning to head back into Kosovo, despite urgings from aid agencies to wait until security has tightened.

More than 14,000 NATO troops have been deployed so far with more on the way. No NATO troops had been killed, Jackson said, although two Serbs had been killed by NATO troops. Jackson originally said three German journalists were killed by sniper fire, but later German officials said only two journalists had been killed.

For the first time since the conflict began March 24, badly needed humanitarian aid was delivered to displaced Kosovars near Pristina.

Serb paramilitary forces had not left the area but did not interfere as aid workers handed out wheat, flour, oil, baby formula, blankets and bottled water to 25,000 ethnic Albanians who came out of the hills.

"They don't have the basic necessities, let alone medical supplies, schooling, everything that we take for granted," U.N. envoy Dennis McNamara told CNN. "We can turn it around quickly, as I said, provided the environment is conducive to that."

Kosovars celebrate

In Prizren, about 400 cars, trucks and buses carried the city's Serbs out of town and eventually out of Kosovo. The Serbs said they fear retribution from the returning refugees and the displaced Kosovar Albanians.

A mob of ethnic Albanians tossed rocks and shouted insults as the convoy rolled by. When the Serbs left, a few Kosovar Albanians looted Serb shops and restaurants.

Their anger vented, hundreds of ethnic Albanians turned to celebration and flooded the streets of Kosovo's second largest city. Many clapped and chanted pro-NATO slogans.

"Now we celebrate all night," one man said.

In the small village of Glogovac, about 18 miles (30 km) west of Pristina, a group of 25,000 displaced people descended from the hills as humanitarian aid arrived and appeared for the first time in more than 11 weeks of hiding.

The group was part of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians who took shelter in villages and forests after they said they were driven from their towns by Yugoslav forces.

Although in reasonably good physical condition, they were living on corn and little else. Many appeared exhausted and thin. Some are in serious need of medical help.

The World Food Program and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees brought five large trucks of supplies that included the wheat, flour and other much-sought relief.

Correspondents Mike Boettcher and Christiane Amanpour contributed to this report.

NATO monitors Yugoslav withdrawal from southern zone as deadline nears
June 15, 1999
NATO gains ground as Serb convoys roll out of Kosovo
June 14, 1999
Shootings raise tensions in Kosovo
June 13, 1999
NATO peacekeeping commander arrives in Pristina
June 12, 1999
Russians await orders in Kosovo as generals meet with NATO
June 12, 1999
Some Kosovo refugees return while others continue to flee
June 12, 1999
U.S. puts positive spin on Russian troops in Kosovo
June 12, 1999
FBI to send forensic team to Kosovo
June 12, 1999
Russian troops enter Kosovo; Moscow orders them to leave
June 11, 1999
Russia says relations with NATO 'frozen'
June 11, 1999

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

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from

  • 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

  • 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

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

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