Four members of ethnic Albanian guerrilla group detained

PRISTINA, Aug 23, 2000 -- (AFP) Four members of an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group which operates in Serbia have been detained in Kosovo by troops searching for two missing Serbs, a KFOR spokesman said Tuesday.

Sergeant Pat McGuire said the four had been detained by KFOR and UN police officers on August 2O in the village of Novo Selo, in southeastern Kosovo on the province's boundary with Serbia's tense Presevo Valley area.

"The men were stopped in a black jeep which was being looked for in relation to an investigation into the disappearance of two Serbs," McGuire said.

"They were taken to Gnjilane where their details were checked on a computer database and they were found to be members of the UCPMB ... They were transferred to the US military base at Camp Bondsteel, where they are being held for questioning."

The UCPMB, the self-styled Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, is a rebel group based just inside Serbia fighting Serb security forces in the Presevo Valley area, home to some 70,000 ethnic Albanians and which it dubs "Eastern Kosovo."

McGuire said that one of the arrested men was Shefket Musliu, a known UCPMB commander. The Kosovo Albanian dailies Zeri and Kosova Sot reported Tuesday that Musliu had been arrested along with Vullnet Ibishi and Lirim Jakupi, and a fourth UCPMB fighter.

Kosova Sot said the men were guests at a wedding and were not armed when arrested.

Two Serbs have been missing in the area around Kamenice, six miles (10 kilometres) from Novo Selo since August 12, when they set off on a tractor towards an ethnic Albanian area to buy petrol.

Gary Carrell, the UN police commander in Kosovo's southeastern region, told AFP that UN police and KFOR had been searching the area ever since without finding any trace of the missing men or their tractor.

"We've been going up there everyday and working with KFOR to search the area, but we have not found them," he said.

Serbs have regularly been the victims of ethnic violence in Kosovo since a NATO air campaign brought an end to a civil war between ethnic Albanian separatists and Belgrade's forces, and KFOR moved in to the province.

On Friday, 10 Serbian children were injured when unidentified attackers threw hand grenades into a basketball court from a passing car.

The Presevo Valley area of southern Serbia has, like Kosovo, an ethnic Albanian majority population.

The UCPMB, which is thought to be linked to separatist groups in Kosovo, has vowed to liberate the ethnic Albanians from Yugoslav rule, raising fears that fighting might spread beyond the enclave the group controls on the border.

US troops serving with KFOR announced on July 31 that they had reinforced their positions along the frontier in an attempt to stop violence spilling over into Kosovo and cut off rebel supply lines.

Major Scott Slaten, KFOR's chief spokesman, told AFP that a computer database had been set up to record the details of known UCPMB fighters.

US troops stationed on the boundary near the UCPMB's village base of Dobrosin, within a five-kilometer (three-mile) wide demilitarized zone on the Serb side of the boundary, regularly hear fighting between the group and Yugoslav security forces.

Original article