Nato seizes arms, holds eight Kosovo Albanians

PRISTINA, Apr 26, 2000 -- (Reuters) NATO peace troops detained eight ethnic Albanians and seized automatic weapons in a continuing drive to stamp out paramilitary crime in Kosovo, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Major Frank Benjaminsen of the KFOR peace force said four ethnic Albanian men had been arrested in a house search on Monday in the central town of Sedlare that yielded hand grenades, AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition.

Another four ethnic Albanians were detained near the western town of Djakovica after peacekeepers discovered various weapons, ammunition and explosives.

In the southeast town of Kladernica, UN police confiscated a grenade launcher and several handguns after an altercation in a bar in the central town of Kosovo Polje.

Benjaminsen said KFOR had also arrested a man and confiscated an AK-47 with 52 bullets at a petrol station near a peacekeepers' checkpoint on Monday night.

KFOR disbanded and disarmed Kosovo Albanian separatist guerrillas after entering the Yugoslav province last June to end a conflict with Serbian security forces.

But many portable weapons were hidden by former guerrillas or paramilitary gangsters - the two were sometimes indistinguishable - and KFOR or UN police continue to seize illicit arms almost daily.

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