Serbs accused of Kosovo raid

Saturday August 12, 2000

Serbian soldiers made a probing incursion into Kosovo two weeks ago in the worst breach yet of the agreement that ended Nato's bombing campaign last year, the US forces newspaper, Stars and Stripes, said yesterday.

US forces scrambled Apache helicopters to confront the group of armed and uniformed Serbs in two all-terrain vehicles who retreated across the dividing line between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia, the paper said.

The incident took place on July 28 in the mountains of eastern Kosovo, near Serbia's Presevo valley, where there have been clashes between Serbian police and a group of ethnic Albanians seeking independence from Belgrade.

Shortly after the alleged incursion, peacekeepers said they had stepped up security in the Presevo area to try to stop the ethnic Albanian UCPMB group from operating. US forces had reported seeing mortar fire and other military activity.

Officials of the US military contingent that patrols the area refused to respond to questions about the incident and Nato spokesman Major Craig Snow in Pristina said he could not confirm that Serbian forces had crossed into Kosovo. "We've not been commenting on specific incidents," Maj Snow said.

Serb army and police units pulled out of Kosovo in July last year as part of an agreement that ended Nato's 78-day bombing campaign of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.

The Serb incursion, if confirmed, would be regarded by Nato as a test of its commitment to control the movement of UCPMB guerrillas who operate out of Kosovo and have been trying the patience of the Serb military in Presevo.

Original article