YU calls US troops 'particularly brutal'

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25, 2000 -- (Reuters) Yugoslavia has accused United States members of the NATO-led force in Kosovo of being "particularly brutal" in carrying out searches for weapons in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica.

In a letter to the Security Council complaining about the actions of KFOR in the Serbian province, Yugoslav U.N. envoy Vladislav Jovanovic said the "latest deterioration of the situation" had been brought about by the "unbecoming, uncalled-for and arrogant behavior of KFOR toward Serbs" in Mitrovica on Feb. 20.

The town, in which ethnic Albanians and a minority Serb community are divided by a bridge across the Ibar River, has become a tinderbox in recent weeks.

"Under the pretext of looking for hidden arms that the Serbs had allegedly refused to hand over to KFOR, American and German soldiers ransacked Serbian houses, apartments, shops, schools, students' dormitories, even children's clinics and Red Cross warehouses," Jovanovic said.

"Particularly brutal were the American members of KFOR: they broke doors, school benches and lockers, they even vandalized a lab," he added.

He also said there were ethnic Albanians among them, "allegedly as guides or translators."

"This brutality proved entirely fruitless, except for the havoc and enormous material damage left in its train," he said.

Jovanovic said the "most recent mistreatment of about 4,500 Serbs" in Mitrovica was "yet another example of KFOR's policy of double standards, aimed at intimidating the remaining Serbs" and driving them out of Kosovo.

The security of disarmed Serbs depended entirely on the protection of KFOR and the U.N. administration in Kosovo, "which have failed miserably to carry out that obligation," he said.

Jovanovic said that, since the deployment of KFOR and the U.N. administration in mid-June 1999, "4,249 terrorist attacks have been committed mainly against the Serbs and other non-Albanians, in which 889 persons have been killed, 784 wounded and 834 abducted."

"Ethnic Albanian terrorist separatists have also destroyed thousands of Serbian homes, 82 Orthodox churches and monasteries, as well as a large number of monuments to stalwarts of Serbian culture and history," he said.

He called on the Security Council to take urgent measures to "put an immediate end to ethnic Albanian terror and vandalism and to prevent the lynchings and liquidations of Serbs and other non-Albanians, which could result in unforeseeable consequences."

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