A senior ethnic-Albanian leader in Kosovo has accused Serbia of renewed ethnic cleansing on the Serbian side of the border.Serbia accused of new abuses
Sunday, 5 March, 2000
The former head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Hashim Thaci, was addressing a rally near the central Kosovo town of Srbica.
The rally was organised to commemorate the death two years ago of KLA founder Adem Jashari who was shot dead by Serbian security forces.
Mr Thaci accused Belgrade of genocide against the ethnic-Albanian majority in three Serbian towns - Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanova.
He said tens of thousands of Albanians were suffering at the hands of Serbian security forces in the boundary region.
But he warned his fellow Albanians against what he described as " foolish acts" - an apparent reference to a new Albanian guerrilla movement operating in the boundary region.
Our correspondent says ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosovo are concerned that the activities of these extremists will damage the image and interests of all Albanians.
Serbian officials have meanwhile been denying reports, which have been backed up by the Nato-led peacekeeping force, of clashes between Serbian police and ethnic-Albanian militants on the Serbian side of the border.
Nato officials confirmed that dozens of Albanians have fled the area because of the fighting and crossed into Kosovo.
Thousands attended Sunday's rally in Srbica where the town was draped with banners praising the KLA founder, while Albanian two-headed eagle flags flew from the main buildings.
Members of the Kosovo Protection Corps - the civilian successor of the KLA which was officially demilitarised last September - were in evidence, marshalling the crowds
The commmemoration comes two days after peacekeeping troops were pelted with stones in the nearby town of Mitrovica as they escorted Kosovo Albanians back to their homes in the Serbian north of the town.
And on Saturday there were reports of further clashes across the border in southern Serbia between a Kosovo Albanian guerrilla group and the Serbian police.
The peacekeepers say the extremist Kosovo Albanian group calling itself the Liberation Army for Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB) has become active in recent weeks.
Its members first appeared in public at the January funeral of two Kosovo Albanian brothers who, according to their family, were killed by Serbian police.
The group has been blamed for killing a senior Serb police officer and attacking United Nations staff.