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50 Albanians Die in Kosovo

June 06, 1998|From Associated Press

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia — Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders said Friday that 50 people have been killed and 200 more have disappeared in Serbian attacks this week. Survivors were hiding in the woods, most trying to cross the border into neighboring Albania, they said.

A statement by Serbian police Friday indicated that the government had stopped its week-old offensive in the independence-seeking province, having destroyed the "terrorist gangs" that tried to block Kosovo's key north-south road. It said civilians could safely return.

Still, hundreds more fled. Most are ethnic Albanians, who outnumber Serbs 9 to 1 in the province and demand independence from Serbia, the larger of two republics remaining in Yugoslavia. Serbian troops are trying to quash the separatist movement.

In an unusually blunt statement Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan accused Serbian forces of "atrocities" in Kosovo and demanded that "this kind of aggression" be confronted immediately.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the European Union will get involved in the Kosovo crisis, but he offered no details.

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