Pristina, 16 March 2000
by Lt.-Col. Henning Philipp, KFOR Spokesperson
Search operations in the Stublina area
KFOR recently publicly expressed that it would not support any form of military adventurism in the territory outside Kosovo's boundaries. Specifically, extremists would not be permitted any freedom to support their goals using Kosovo as a staging area.
Moreover, KFOR also expressed the intention to employ a variety of measures to ensure that weapons and men do not cross the provincial boundary to ferment unrest and instability in communities in southern Serbia. A large-scale cordon and search operation commenced in the villages of Rusta Mahala, Surlane, Slubica, Stublina and Dunavo on 15 March 2000.
The villages were encircled by Multi National Brigade East personnel in a simultaneous, synchronized assault. A series of thorough, methodical searches then took place. Numerous weapons, grenades, explosives, mortar tubes, mines and ammunition were found. Furthermore, over 200 uniforms were seized, and 9 people arrested. The operation is on-going and will only be completed once all search areas have been thoroughly cleared of weapons and explosive ordnance, some of which were booby-trapped.
KFOR will not tolerate the action of extremists bent on destabilising the region. KFOR remains firm in its resolve to prevent any insurgents from crossing the boundaries of Kosovo into Southern Serbia. General Dr Reinhardt is determined to ensure that the actions of a small extremist minority of the Kosovo population will not be permitted to fuel tension in the Presevo Valley area.
Confidence zone in Mitrovica
Yesterday an operation was commenced in Mitrovica aimed at establishing a confidence area on both sides of the bridges crossing the Ibar river. This will improve the overall security environment and reassure the population of their safety. It will also improve freedom of movement for those actually living or working in the area.
Access to the area will be controlled with an ID-system for those living or working in the area.
During the operation KFOR had to break resistance of about 300 Serbs who threw stones and bottles at the troops. KFOR troops used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. At noon the security perimeter had been successfully enlarged.
So far seven people are reported injured. Three KFOR soldiers were lightly injured along with a journalist, while two Kosovo Serb females and one Kosovo Albanian interpreter are injured. Their condition is unknown at this moment.
Sick girl evacuated to Italy
Two days ago an eight year old Albanian girl from Pristina was suffering from pneumonia and chest infections, but could not get treated at the hospital in Pristina. The Royal Canadian Regiment gave her treatment, and transported her to the military hospital in Pec. Yesterday afternoon she was evacuated to the Bari hospital in Italy.
Tomorrow at 2:15pm inside of Camp Bondsteel, Brigadier General Sanchez, Commander of Multinational Brigade East, will offer a press briefing focused on the Cordon and Search operation that took place Wednesday morning, along the eastern boundary of Kosovo. The General will give an overview of the entire operation and then take questions. Also, everything that was seized during the operation will be on display following the briefing.
Events and incidents in Kosovo during the last 24 hours:
A Kosovo Albanian male in Klina (MNB West) was arrested for illegal detention of a pistol yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday morning an AP-mine was discovered near Zur (MNB South). A KFOR Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team disposed of the mine.
Yesterday morning unexploded ordnance located approximately 1,000 metres to the north of Suva Reka (MNB South) was discovered. The ordnance was disposed by an EOD-team.
Yesterday at noon an antitank mine was found inside a community centre near Decane (MNB West).
Medical treatment of local population
Medical treatment in the different Multinational Brigades in Kosovo continues every day. As an example yesterday 429 consultations were made in MNB North, and 160 citizens attended the hospitals in Pec, Istok, Klina, Djakovica and Gorazdevac. In the village Dubrova (MNB Centre) a mobile medical unit with a dentist and nurses examined 41 residents.