British troops report troubles in Kosovo

LONDON, Jan 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) Classified military documents have pointed to a gamut of problems faced by British members of the NATO peace-keeping force operating in Kosovo, BBC radio reported Monday.

Serb tapping of scrambled radio messages, weapons that malfunctioned and a wave of revenge killings that peace-keepers have been powerless to halt were high among the criticisms made by British officers.

"There was much discussion about law, but little application of justice," said one of the documents cited by the BBC. "Meanwhile, the Albanian community in particular meted out violence on Serbs, sure in the knowledge that we were impotent to stop them."

The documents also revealed that light weapons used by British units had proved "unreliable and insufficiently robust," and voiced unease over the breakdowns in army radio communication.

"We are fortunate that an inadequate system was not put to the test," said the documents.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman, however, insisted that the troubles mentioned in the reports would not have impeded a land invasion of Kosovo, which had been widely predicted prior to NATO's occupation of the province on June 12.

"With our 18 allies in NATO we prepared for a land campaign and were confident that this would have been successfully executed, had it been necessary," said the spokesman.

He added that the confidential army documents would form part of a "balanced overall picture which we will be making public when we publish a report on the campaign later this year."

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