Liberation of Kosovo: Retribution - Fears grow after four brothers are murdered

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THE BODIES of the four Serbian brothers were found early yesterday in the village of Gracanica, near Pristina. They were hidden in woodland just a few hundred yards from where they had been tending their animals.

Zivojin, Zivko, Trogan and Dimitrice Simic were in their fifties. Each had been stabbed - in the heart, in the kidneys or in both.

"I didn't see anything. We just found them this morning," cried their younger brother Milos. "They had been stabbed - ripped open.

"Now I am not scared, I am really scared. These were innocent people."

Mr Simic said he had not seen his brothers abducted or murdered. Nor had he seen the killers when they dumped the men's jackets and walking sticks at the end of the track which led to their bodies.

Yet he had no doubt who was responsible for these killings in the hamlet of Slivovo, next to the village of Gracanica, which the locals say is 100 per cent Serb.

"It was the terrorists - it was the KLA," he said. He said all Serbs were now frightened of being attacked.

Yesterday afternoon a unit of Royal Artillery, which has taken over the police station in Gracanica, was preparing to take the bodies into Pristina. The Royal Military Police have launched an inquiry ,though no one is holding their breath.

"There is a large number of KLA in Slivovo," said Lt Charles Taylor, whose men were wrapping the bodies in blankets and placing them in a truck behind him. "They were not mutilated but they had been stabbed in the heart or in other organs. One of them had his arm broken in three places.

"There is not a lot we can do now. We're just trying to keep the peace."

The villagers are not convinced. Murders such as these are exactly what the Serbs of Kosovo have been afraid of ever since Nato took control of the province.

"Your British soldiers do nothing," said one villager, Novica Markovic, the local representative of the Serbian Renewal Movement.

"When they first came I was quite confident, but now I am not. I do not think the British want to protect us."