Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission Daily Report ; 22 Dec.

from US Department of State
Published on 22 Dec 1998
Released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC

Compiled by EUR/SCE (202-647-4850) from daily reports of the U.S. element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission

December 22, 1998

The ever-so-fragile cease-fire continues to hold today in a tense and bitterly cold Kosovo. A VJ armored column on a high-profile patrol from Pristina to Djakovica succeeded in provoking a brief firefight with the KLA. KDOM followed the convoy of 29 vehicles although the VJ commander tried repeatedly to discourage KDOM. Between Lipljan and Stimlje one VJ vehicle blocked KDOM while the convoy continued. KDOM later caught up with the convoy and followed it through Prizren. The KDOM team had to break off at that point and return to base due to impending darkness. The firefight reportedly took place between Djakovica and Prizren.

KDOM continued its observation of the VJ battle group on its "training exercise" around Podujevo. Elements of the group participated in the patrol to Djakovica reported above. KDOM observed the VJ at the Dumos airport constructing earthen fortifications around seven M-80 light fighting vehicles.

KDOM followed a convoy of seven M-80s, two fuel trucks, a T-55 tank, and two troop transports heading from Pristina toward Podujevo. The VJ had notified KDOM that the unit was to provide security for the funeral of the policeman killed in Podujevo yesterday. The convoy, however, never went into Podujevo, going instead directly to the Dumos airport where it joined the battle group. A VJ liaison officer advised KDOM today that the battle group will remain at Dumos until further notice, due to the "increased violence in the area".

KDOM showed its presence around the funeral for the slain Podujevo policeman. The event produced no violence but the town remains very tense and a significant police presence remains in place. KDOM accompanied a police patrol from Dulje (NE of Suva Reka) to Malisevo without incident. The police commander said he had noted several new fixed KLA positions along the route. Police claimed also that a group of some 25 KLA soldiers fired on police positions along the highway northeast of Komorane. KDOM discovered a KLA checkpoint on the road to Dobrotin (NW of Podujevo) where, for a time the KLA did not permit KDOM to pass pending clearance. KDOM noted trenches dug along this road for some 50 meters past the checkpoint.

KDOM met with the mayor of Podujevo yesterday. The mayor expressed concern that the Serb population of the town is departing, claiming that 200 have already left. KDOM checked out the village of Dobrotin where tanks reportedly had fired into the village. Villagers report that no rounds exploded in the village but that they were very upset over the incident. KDOM will investigate further.

KDOM visited the school in Vranic which now has heat and desks but no school supplies for its 520 students. KDOM also visited the mayor of Sicevo who reported the village appreciated the aid it has received from various NGOs. 98 students have returned to the village school which now badly needs supplies. The five teachers are living under extreme conditions in an unheated house. KDOM will ask proper NGOs to follow up.

KDOM ran 30 missions today with 37 vehicles and 151 personnel.