Geert Lovink on Mon, 29 Mar 1999 23:31:36 +0100

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From: Tony Borden <>


BLOOD ON THE WALK. While the situation throughout the province
deteriorates, our correspondent in Pristina sees burning and looting, and
bloodstains on the sidewalk.

TIRANA CALLS FOR GROUND TROOPS. While terror increases in Kosovo, and
refugees mount in Albania, Tirana appeals for NATO to intervene with
ground troops to halt the violence. Fron Nazi reports.


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While the situation throughout the province deteriorates, general chaos
reigns in Pristina, with burning and looting, and bloodstains on the

An IWPR Correspondent in Pristina *

The situation outside the capital seems to be descending into a real
nightmare, while in Pristina we have the same chaos we have had for days.

Up to 30,000 Albanians have fled their towns and villages for Albania, and
we hear that tens of thousands of Albanians have been taken out of their
homes in Pec, in the western part of the province, by Serbian police and
are being escorted in columns towards Rozhaje over the Kosovo border in
Montenegro. Albanian sources say that more than 100 people in the town
have been killed, dead bodies are lying on the streets, and after shelling
and looting, the old part of the town has been destroyed. Gjakovica, it
seems, is also aflame, and many people have been killed there, too.

According to reports from Kosovapress, the news agency of the Kosovo
Liberation Army agency, Serbian police entered the village of Cirez, where
more than 15,000 refugees live in the open for more than two weeks, and
forced them into a nearby military building-a possible NATO target. The
actual events here, and the number of people involved, are hard to
confirm, but everyone fears mass executions.

In Pristina, the only people out on the streets are police and a great
number of armed (Serbian) civilians wandering around the streets of the
town, shooting in various directions. The looting, burning and general
destruction continues. Shops are completely gutted, and everything taken.
Cafes and restaurants--including the small hidden cafe where all the
journalists used to meet--have been heavily damaged.

Last night there were many explosions in the town--and not just from NATO
bombs. This is the case especially around Dragodan, a residential part of
Pristina, where there have been constant explosions. Albanians living in
private houses there are particularly vulnerable.

I don't sleep at home at night, but in the mornings when I come back, I
can see lots of blood on the ground, though it is impossible to know who
got wounded or killed the previous night.

It seems that the authorities are trying to get people to flee. In many
residential buildings, little papers were posted with the emblem of the
Kosovo Liberation Army calling on people to leave their houses and go away
from the towns. But some regional KLA commanders denied any links with the
documents, and since the Albanian language in it has many mistakes, we
expect they have been posted by the authorities. This isn't the first time
counterfeit posters have been pasted around town exhorting the people to
do one thing or another.

The problem is that there's not much chance of going anyway. The bus
station in Pristina is full, and buses are still travelling. But they only
head north, towards Serbia, and only Serbs are allowed to board. Albanians
are kicked off. Otherwise, there is no way to get out of town. The streets
are full of paramilitary units controlling the roads, and no one would
dare to try to pass. Some, through bribes and other means, have apparently
found a way out, and almost none of my journalist colleagues are around
any more.

Even if you have some money, there's almost nothing to by in the shops. In
those few that haven't been destroyed, there's very little to buy: no
bread, no milk, no flour, no sugar. You need a fortune to buy a pack of
cigarettes-and they are becoming increasingly scarce-or medicine. We had a
better night with the phone lines last night, and we able to receive
calls. But now only a few lines are still working, the mobile network is
down, and we are afraid the whole system will simply be switched off soon.
The Internet, through which I was able to file this report, belongs to a
family linked to the Serbian government, and we expect it will also stop

Meanwhile, on state-run media proudly proclaims that "Yugoslavia has
entered history as the only state that shot down a NATO plane." The
burnings and destruction that we see every night are, according to Serb
TV, all caused by NATO.

* This report is written by IWPR's correspondent in Pristina, whose name
is withheld to protect from reprisals.


While terror increases in Kosovo, and refugees mount in Albania, Tirana
appeals for NATO to intervene with ground troops to halt the violence.

By Fron Nazi in Tirana

NATO air strikes were intended to bring Belgrade to its knees. But
Belgrade has responded by building an iron curtain around Kosovo and
launching a wave of terror against the Kosovars. In the past two days, up
to 30,000 refugees have crossed the border into Albania, into the towns of
Kukes and Has. The stories they tell are of extreme violence, and
immediate expulsions from their homes. Key figures in the Albanian elite
have been killed, gone into hiding or escaped Kosovo. Others are reported
to have been detained.

According to Gazmund Pula, President of the Kosovo Helsinki Committee,
"Twenty thousand people have been detained by Serb forces, but it is not
known what has happened to them. Also, criminals have been released from
prisons to assist the Serbian forces with their anti-Albanian campaign."
Speaking from Kosovo, Pula added, "We know that 20 people were killed in
front of students. . . . As to the journalists, activists, and political
leaders, Belgrade has put a death warrant on their heads. Yesterday, the
actor Hadi Shehu best known for portraying Albanian patriots, was killed
in Pristina by the Serbs."

Since the beginning of NATO air strikes, not only have the Serbian forces
increased their activity against the Kosovars but also against Albania
proper. Serb forces have launched bombs in the northern village of Tropaj,
destroying four homes, while in the nearby village of Kamnic, Serb forces
entered the village and began shooting indiscriminately. There were no
reports of any serious injuries.

Rexhep Meidani, the president of Albania, has appealed to the West to
intervene with ground troops in Kosovo to stop the killing. At a press
conference with journalists he stressed that there was "only one war going
on in the territory of what has remained from Yugoslavia and this is the
inhuman war of Slobodan Milosevic regime against an undefended population,
against Albanians." Arguing that the terror in Kosovo will not end without
NATO troops, he stressed, "It is essential to accelerate NATO actions and
find a way . . . to intervene on the ground."

Fron Nazi is an IWPR senior editor.