Serb forces `kill 300' in massacre

IN THE bloodiest massacre described so far by refugees fleeing Kosovo, Serb troops and police are reported to have murdered as many as 300 Albanians forced to leave their homes last Tuesday.

Described in chilling and consistent detail by survivors - mostly women and children - the mass murder was apparently carried out to avenge the killings of six Serb policemen. Refugees said that one week earlier, the Kosovo Liberation Army had ambushed a car in Meja village, killing five policemen and an officer.

According to the traumatised refugees now camped in Kukes, across the border from Kosovo, the day-long slaughter claimed the lives of more than 300 Albanian men trying to move with their families to safety in Albania.

The United Nations refugee agency said yesterday it had clear evidence that the Serbs massacred a large group of Kosovars this week. "There has certainly been a mass killing. I think that is beyond doubt," a UN High Commission for Refugees spokeswoman, Lyndall Sachs, said.

On Tuesday 27 April, thousands of people were ordered out of their homes in villages around the southern Kosovan town of Djakovica and told to head for Albania. Some travelled in tractor-trailers or by car; many more were on foot, carrying a bag or two. But expulsion was not the worst to face these latest victims of President Slobodan Milosevic's military machine. The minor road they were travelling passes through Meja, a small village of maybe 70 houses, where dozens of soldiers and police, some wearing masks, were gathered.

"They were nervous. They knew what they were doing," said Had Mehmeti, a woman whose husband, Ram, and 17-year-old son are missing, feared dead. She and others described how the Serb forces stopped their tractors, checking for men and ordering them out.

By 11am, more than 100 men had been detained, according to Muharrem Gaxharri, whose son Ibrahim, 38, was taken by the Serbs. "They showed them a wall. They had guns, and said go there. They did not explain," he added.

This continued all day. At 5pm Mrs Mehmeti and her family reached the village, hitching a ride in a stranger's tractor. There were many dead piled up in the centre of Meja beside the road. But still the Serbs wanted more.

"The Serbs forced my son to get out first - he was among some girls in the tractor, and they made another boy climb out, and then my husband. They pushed them over to another man, and made them stand in a line," Mrs Mehmeti continued. "There was no attempt to hide the bodies. I have no idea how many bodies were there, I was thinking about my husband and son, but there were a lot of them," she said.

Some 30 minutes later, the last of the convoy straggled through. "We saw a collection of bodies thrown on top of each other - maybe 300 people who were killed," said Zizi Salihu. She and her children estimated the pile to measure 4 by 3 metres.

"Nearby, we saw another 50 men, kneeling ... a policeman asked my husband if there was anyone behind us and he said no, because we were the last. One policeman told his friend to separate my husband and his cousin." Another officer ordered Kujtim, an 18-year-old cousin, to leave his family. But his sister Ruke began to cry, and a Serb took pity on them. "Hey guys, leave him alone, he is young and we don't need him."

So Kujtim was saved. The Serbs taunted the men as they were rounded up. "They were teasing my husband and his cousin, calling, `Come on sweetie', things like that," said Mrs Salihu. As she passed the men who had been detained, kneeling on the ground, she recognised a couple - the Mehmetis, father and son. She has no idea what happened to her own husband. "As we were leaving we heard some shots fired but we are not sure if they were really killed, or if the Serbs were just doing it to frighten us."

Both women are hoping for the best. "I don't know the fate of my husband and my son - maybe they are dead, maybe they are free," Mrs Mehmeti said.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reception Teacher in Bradford

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Reception Primary Teacher in Bra...

English Secondary Teacher

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: English Teacher needed for ...

NQT and Experienced Primary Teachers Urgently required

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: NQT and Experienced Primary Teac...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Year 1 Primary Supply Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album