Liberation of Kosovo: Paratroopers in new clashes with guerrillas

British Army
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The Independent Online
BRITISH paratroopers came under fire from Kosovo Liberation Army fighters yesterday as a tense and violent scenario of scores being settled began to unfold across the province.

In one incident, a patrol of British paratroopers came under fire in the north-east of the capital, Pristina, from the KLA as they investigated the shooting of a Serbian civilian.

The paratroopers had come across a weeping Serbian family who said a man had been shot dead by Kosovo-Albanians. As the patrol went forward it came under fire from a building. Reinforcements, including armoured cars, were called, and after a warning three men and a woman surrendered along with a cache of weapons. They are being held in British Army custody. This follows another confrontation at Kacanik, near the Macedonian border, when three KLA members were disarmed and arrested by Gurkhas of the British Army after shooting a Serbian.

The clashes continued yesterday afternoon when around 50 armed KLA members took over a warehouse in Pristina. The place was immediately sealed off by British paratroopers and after a stand-off the guerrillas agreed to leave.

In a spiralling wave of retribution, Kosovo-Albanians were seeking out Serbs who had abused them and stolen from them under the previous regime. There were also random attacks by Serbian forces, especially the paramilitaries, as they retreated. A Kosovo-Albanian was killed in Grmija, a suburb of Pristina, by paramilitaries in a car. Some Albanian shops, which had opened after being shut for months, had their windows smashed.

Lieutenant General Sir Mike Jackson, the Nato commander in Kosovo, urged Serbians not to leave their homes. He said that Nato forces would be totally even-handed in their dealings with both sides of the population.

Standing at a British Army post, Fadil Hoxha, who said he was the chief of the KLA military police, said: "We don't have any problems with the Serbs. But we must protect ourselves and our people. I have driven up from Kukes [in Albania] and others will follow."