Massive weapons stash belonged to KLA, says KFOR

PRISTINA, Jun 23, 2000 -- (AFP) A massive weapons haul uncovered by KFOR peacekeeping troops last week belonged to the province's former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rebels, a KFOR spokesman said Friday.

The announcement flew in the face of a statement by the ex-head of the disbanded KLA, General Agim Ceku, who on Sunday categorically denied any link between his fighters and the stash of some 70 tonnes of arms.

"KFOR's multinational brigade center is now able to confirm that the weapons discovered in the two bunkers originally belonged to the former KLA," said Major Scott Slaten.

"Intelligence experts have considerable evidence to link the weapons in the bunkers to the KLA units operating during the war," said Slaten.

He said the evidence included KLA documents but gave no further details.

Slaten said it was possible that Ceku, whose wartime headquarters were less a kilometer (half a mile) away from the weapons bunkers found last Friday, might not have known about their presence.

"At the time much of the KLA was operating in disorganized groups throughout the region, not necessarily under a centralized command. Whether someone in one of those groups decided to do something independently, I don't know," he said.

"Right now we don't have any evidence that General Ceku is connected with these weapons," Slaten added.

Ceku firmly dismissed in a statement issued just after the find any link with the KLA.

"With full confidence I can say the KLA did not possess these weapons during the war," said Ceku, who now heads the Kosovo Protection Corps, the civilian successor of the KLA.

"Everyone knows the difficulties and lack of weapons we had in the war, especially during the NATO attacks and against the violent Serb offensive," he said.

Under UN-brokered peace accords that ended NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia a year ago, the KLA agreed to disarm and transform itself into the KPC, a civilian disaster relief group with no security mandate.

British Brigadier Richard Shirreff, commander of the central sector of the UN-administered province, said if Ceku and other ex-KLA leaders had known of the stash and not informed them it would constitute an act of "non-compliance" with the demilitarization agreement.

Original article