KFOR beefs up border patrols and security to fight smuggling

PRISTINA, Serbia, Dec 30, 1999 -- (Reuters) NATO's Kosovo peacekeeping force (KFOR) has "dramatically increased" its security and border controls mainly in a drive to fight smuggling, a KFOR spokesman said Wednesday.

"We found it necessary to bring down illegal border crossing and to fight against smuggling", said Lieutenant-Colonel Henning Philipp.

KFOR has increased the number of its patrols in recent weeks along Kosovo's borders with Macedonia and Albania and is using searchlights to look mainly for weapons and cigarette smuggling.

KFOR did not disclose how many troops were posted at the borders.

"By turning night into day, any illegal activity can easily be spotted and controlled," said Philipp, adding that the moved by KFOR had "dramatically increased its security" efforts.

He was speaking after newspaper reports that 13 metric tons of explosives were seized and 15 people arrested Tuesday in the Macedonian town of Tabanovce near the Yugoslav border.

The explosives reportedly came from a factory at Samakov, eastern Macedonia, and were en route to Yugoslavia.

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