Balkans: March 16, 2000

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On March 15 300 US KFOR troops seized 22 crates of ammunition, seven rifles, 28 hand grenades, two mortar tubes, mines, uniforms and documents from five sites belonging to what the US State Dept described as "ethnic Albanian extremists." Initial reports described the sites as belonging to "illegal militias." KFOR described the operation as a series of "simultaneous assaults" using air and ground forces along a 28-kilometer long "front." The area struck gives Albanian extremists access to both Macedonia and south Serbia. One AFP report said that some of the uniforms had insignia of the UCPMB (Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac), which has been operating across the Kosovo border into Serbia, On March 16 State Dept spokesman Jamie Ruubin said that the KFOR action demonstrated that "American troops and KFOR intend to fulfill their mission of providing a secure environment in Kosovo and these raids are consistent with that mission...it's appropriate for US forces to take these kind of steps to prevent any extremists from provoking further hostilities in the region." Rubin said that the US knows that many Kosovar Albanian groups have not complied with the demilitarization agreements. The US spin is that since the Albanians who were disarmed didn't resist KFOR, that no confrontation between KFOR and Albanians is likely.

 

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