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Boy tells of a new massacre

A WOUNDED 10-year-old boy said yesterday he saw the Serbs massacring 19 civilians in the western city of Djakovica, including members of his family.

Dren Caka crossed into the safety of Albania in a yellow Yugo car driven by his aunt and uncle. "The Serbs shot me, my mother and my three sisters," Dren said blankly, sitting in the back seat with his young cousins, his right arm bandaged from wrist to shoulder.

Dr Flori Bakalli, a refugee from Dren's home town, who is now working with Medecins du Monde, then carried the child to an operating tent set up in a field beside the frontier. The doctor asked him what had happened.

"There were 20 people underground, hiding in the cellar. There were only women and children," Dren replied. "It was about 1am. They first burnt a car on the road near the house and then they came inside, howling like wolves. They were local Serbs, they were not wearing masks. They told us to come up to the house and when we did, they said to us, `You are with the KLA', and then they shot a cupboard, and started to burn it."

His voice rose as he recounted the most horrifying details. "First, they shot a girl, she was about 13 years old, with a machine-gun. I saw that, I saw everything. They shot them one by one, in the head and in the back. I was near the door, and when they shot at me I threw myself down on the ground as if I was dead."

Dren was shot in the right arm as he lay on the floor. "And when they [the Serbs] moved away from the door I ran to another room that was burning

and full of smoke inside. I waited there and when they left, I escaped."

The boy said the attack took place on Milos Gjilic street, close to the bus station, and claimed victims from four families: the Vejsas, the Boshnajkus, the Hoxhas and the Cakas. The boy wept as doctors gently cut away his bloodied white under-shirt. Within seconds he was screaming, hysterical with pain and fear as Dr Bakalli tried to reassure him that the doctors were trying to help. The anaesthetic soon took hold and he lapsed into unconsciousness.

Slowly the doctors unwrapped a bandage covering his whole arm. On his right bicep, a bullet hole, the size of a penny, was pulsing with scarlet blood. A doctor poured iodine into the wound, but there seemed to be no exit wound. Dren's aunt, Nimeta Babalija, watched over the boy. He had managed to reach her house after the massacre, which took place at 1am on Saturday. Mrs Babalija said the boy's father was in Kosovo, in the mountains, trying to walk to Albania. He does not know of his family's fate.

Another wounded child, dressed in pink dungarees and a white shirt patterned with the letters BABY, lay on the next-door camp bed, breathing heavily and sleeping off the anaesthetic. Sadri Kelmendi, aged four, lost a chunk of his right calf to shrapnel.

The Serbs attacked his family because they took too long being ethnically cleansed from the village of Grabovica, near the Western town of Pec. "We were told to get out of our houses immediately. We got into the tractor and because we were not moving fast enough, they shelled us," said Sadri's mother, who sat on the grass outside the tent, cradling another of her children.