KFOR Rounds up NLA Rebels Sneaking from Macdonia into Kosovo
The NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) said Monday it had arrested 149 suspected ethnic Albanians guerrillas over the weekend as they tried to sneak into the province from neighboring Macedonia.
KFOR spokesman Roy Brown said 96 suspected members of the National Liberation Army (NLA) were caught Sunday night alone moving from Macedonia into Kosovo, a UN-administered, predominantly ethnic Albanian province of Serbia.
"All are suspected members of the so called National Liberation Army who have illegaly crossed into Kosovo," Brown said.
The arrests same just before the NLA was to begin surrendering its weapons to NATO forces as part of a peace agreement with the Macedonian government. That operation began Monday morning.
Brown said KFOR troops "have no intention of allowing these people to use Kosovo as a safehaven or as hiding place for their weapons."
KFOR troops regularly stop convoys of pack animals and guerrillas travelling through the mountains separating Macedonia and Kosovo.
Since June, KFOR has said its troops have seized more than 600 rifles, 1,058 anti-tank weapons, 113 rockets and missiles, 1,396 mines and grenades as well as 132,606 rounds of ammunition.
Macedonia has repeatedly called on KFOR to step up its efforts to seal the border between Macedonia and Kosovo to prevent guerrillas from slipping across to help the seven-month insurgency in the troubled Balkan state.
NATO and the NLA agreed last week that the rebels would surrender 3,300 weapons in an operation due to last 30 days. NATO called the figure a "credible" estimate of the NLA arsenal, but Macedonian officials have assailed the number, claiming the rebels had anywhere from 8,000 to 60,000 arms - PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AFP)