YU says British SAS trains Montenegrins

BELGRADE, Aug 1, 2000 -- (Reuters) Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic on Monday accused Britain's SAS of training special police units in the pro-Western republic of Montenegro.

"It is true the British are carrying out part of the training of the Montenegrin special units," Matic told a news conference when asked to comment on an article in Britain's Sunday Independent newspaper.

The paper quoted a member of the Montenegrin special police talking about training with the British unit.

The reformist Montenegrin government, which has regularly warned that the Yugoslav authorities led by President Slobodan Milosevic are planning to remove it, has denied any involvement by foreign nations in the arming of training of its police.

Western leaders fear that another conflict may be looming in Montenegro like the ones that accompanied the breakup of the Socialist Yugoslav federation in the early 1990s. Milosevic controls army units in the coastal republic.

Matic also accused Croatia of helping to arm Montenegro, which has threatened to break away from Yugoslavia unless the Serbia-dominated federation is reformed.

"It is also true that the Montenegrin Ministry of Internal Affairs, in spite of the fact its official representatives talk only about peace and exclusively about peace...are intensively obtaining various kinds and types of weapons, starting with anti-aircraft and anti-helicopter weapons and so on, and are also being assisted by Croatia, as the weapons go through Dubrovnik and other places," he said.

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