KFOR vows to prevent Kosovo 'export of violence'March 1, 2000
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (Reuters) - The NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo vowed Wednesday to do everything in its power to prevent any "export of violence" to a tense neighboring area in southern Serbia.
KFOR, expressing concern about the shooting of a U.N. employee Tuesday, said it would "not allow the territory of Kosovo to be used to support any activity aimed at using force and inciting tensions" in the region east of the province.
This part of Serbia has a large ethnic Albanian population and has seen several violent incidents over the past few months.
Irishman Marcel Grogan of the U.N.'s office of humanitarian affairs was shot and wounded in the leg while travelling in a marked U.N. vehicle near the Serbian village of Dobrosin close to the administrative border with Kosovo Tuesday.
KFOR said the attackers were reportedly a group of men "wearing green uniforms with red patches on their sleeves."
KFOR spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Henning Philipp said he did not have further details. "We have not confirmed that they are really ethnic Albanians," he told reporters. "I don't know."
But he said according to recent intelligence people on the Kosovo side of the boundary line also were "somehow connected" to activities in the Presevo valley east of the province.
"What we are doing is to try hard to prevent this export of violence, this potential export of violence, by controlling the border very, very strictly," Philipp said.
"We are aware of some people in groups who are aiming at destabilizing the situation in the Presevo valley," he said.
Yugoslavia surrendered control of Kosovo, its southernmost province, to international peacekeepers last June after 11 weeks of NATO air strikes.
Western diplomats and politicians have accused Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of reinforcing troops in the region east of Kosovo to spread fear and drive out ethnic Albanians.
Belgrade says it is responding to "terrorism" by ethnic Albanian guerrillas infiltrating from Kosovo.
Sunday, Yugoslavia's official Tanjug news agency said a Serb policeman and an ethnic Albanian guerrilla were killed in a shoot-out the previous night east of Kosovo.
KFOR said Tuesday's shooting of the U.N. employee confirmed that there were people in the boundary region with Kosovo prepared to use force to achieve their aims.
"This is not of benefit for Kosovo," its statement said. "Much needed investment and economic opportunity will be scared away if further conflict seems possible."