Two hurt as Serbs `breach ceasefire'

 

Serb troops and policemen have attacked Albanian rebels fighting inside a pocket of disputed Serbian territory on the Kosovan boundary, wounding two, in contravention of a ceasefire agreed between the two warring factions, Albanian rebel leaders claim.

The rebel leader, Mr Muhamet Xhemaili, commanding the separatist ethnic Albanian rebels in the small Serbian village of Muhoc, 2 km across the Kosovan boundary, said that Serb forces wounded two of his men in an attack on Friday.

"Even during the ceasefire the Serbs have been attacking," he said. "Three days ago using silenced weapons they attacked our positions, wounding two men."

"They attacked at dusk and dawn, they have fired with mortars during the ceasefire, and are breaking the accord by advancing into the territory that we leave when we withdraw," he claimed. "

Four Serb policemen were killed last month by the rebels of the Liberation Army for Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, or UCPMB, who name their year-old breakaway guerrilla group after three local Serb towns, home to many of the 70,000 ethnic Albanians living in this rural, wooded part of southern Serbia.

Attacking with mortars, antitank rockets and automatic weapons, the Albanian rebels, estimated at some 200-strong, occupied three local villages, driving the Serb forces back to near the town of Bujanovac, five kilometres from the Kosovo boundary.

President Kostunica of Serbia has said that NATO has failed to comply with its obligation to provide security in the area, as Albanian rebels are operating inside an internationally agreed security buffer zone put in place by NATO and Belgrade when NATO peacekeepers entered Kosovo last June.

Serb forces are not allowed to deploy heavy weapons, troops or forces other than local police within this area running along the Serb side of the Kosovan boundary.