UN report accuses Albanians in Kosovo Protection Corps of abuses

WASHINGTON, Mar 15, 2000 -- (AFP) Albanian members of the newly formed Kosovo Protection Corps have killed, tortured and blackmailed local citizens, said an internal UN report quoted in Wednesday's Washington Post daily.

The illegal activities carried out by several members of the corps, made up almost entirely of former Albanian guerrillas from the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, did not appear to be organized or ordered by their leaders, said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the newspaper.

The Corps was formed in January to provide humanitarian assistance and help clear landmines in Kosovo.

The report by the UN human rights unit in Kosovo was based on interviews with UN police officers, regional UN administrators and local residents.

The report includes allegations of torture and murder of local citizens, the illegal detention of others, attempts to conduct law enforcement activities outside the scope of the corps, forcing local businesses to pay taxes and threatening UN police who attempted to stop the wrongdoing, the daily said.

"Many said that the greatest human rights challenge looming in Kosovo" is whether corps members will abide by UN regulations and whether those "who violate the law will be punished," said a passage from the report quoted by the daily.

Also in Tuesday's Washington Post, a senior Pentagon official warned that US troops in Kosovo may have to fight their former allies, ethnic Albanian guerrillas who are rearming themselves and threatening to carry out attacks against Serbia.

"This has got to cease and desist," said the unidentified official, "and if not, ultimately it is going to lead to a confrontation between the Albanians and KFOR" -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

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