CEOL
Serbian police checkpoint attacked 3x

BELGRADE, Jul 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) A police checkpoint in southern Serbia near the Kosovo border has been attacked three times in the past 24 hours, the independent Beta news agency said on Thursday.

The agency quoted a source close to the police as saying that one ethnic Albanian was killed, but regional investigative judge Slavoljub Mihajlovic, who confirmed the attacks took place, denied reports of any casualties.

Mihajlovic said that in the last of the attacks a mortar shell was fired from close range at the Konculj checkpoint and was followed by shots from an automatic weapon.

It took place in a demilitarized buffer zone between territory controlled by Yugoslav forces and Kosovo which has been under the de facto control of NATO-led troops since June last year after NATO's air campaign forced Yugoslav forces to withdraw.

The area of southern Serbia adjoining Kosovo, which has a large ethnic Albanian population, has seen an upsurge of violence over the past months which the Yugoslav authorities blame on a spillover of "Albanian terrorism" from Kosovo.

A mortar attack was reported on the Konculj checkpoint on Saturday. The area near the Kosovo border was rocked with several bombs on one day last month.

An ethnic Albanian armed group calling itself the Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac Liberation Army, named after the municipalities in that area, is believed to have been involved in several clashes with Serbian police in the past year.

Beta said there had been 13 attacks on police in the area since January 17 in which one policeman was killed and several injured.



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