Serb leader accuses KLA 'structures' of anti-Serb violence

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Jun 9, 2000 -- (AFP) A Kosovo Serb leader, Oliver Ivanovic, said Thursday that recent anti-Serb violence had been ordered by the command structure the theoretically defunct Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Ivanovic, who is the leader of the Serbian community in the divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, made his comments after a meeting with EU security and foreign policy chief Javier Solana in the town.

"I told Mr Solana that we were waiting for these attacks, we had forseen them, and that I believe KLA structures were behind them," Ivanovic said.

The KLA was declared demilitarized by the UN in September 1999. It was disarmed and renamed Kosovo Protection Corps, conceived as a civilian emergency service. Serbs have said the switch was largely meaningless.

Anti-Serb violence in Kosovo has been on the increase in the past two weeks. A series of attacks left eight dead and a further eight wounded last week, and six Serbs were injured in a grenade attack on Tuesday.

Ivanovic said that the aim of the attacks was to destroy the morale of the Serb community and drive them from Kosovo. He said Serbs had felt besieged and persecuted since the Yugoslav army and police left the province in June last year under an agreement signed with NATO to end the alliance's air war againts Yugoslavia.

Following the complete withdrawal of Yugoslav armed forces from Kosovo in June 1999, UN Security Council resolution 1244 foresaw the return of several hundred Yugoslav police and army personnel.

But one year on, the precise number of troops involved and a date for their return are still to be negotiated.

Original article