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Ethnic Albanian Leader Calls on Alliance to Intervene in Kosovo

June 20, 1998| From Times Wire Services

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia — The top political leader of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians appealed Friday for direct NATO intervention in the province, fearing that Serbian forces are readying new attacks on his people.

"NATO should undertake all possible measures to prevent further massacres and protect the people of Kosovo," Ibrahim Rugova told a news conference in Pristina, the capital of the southern Serbian province. Ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs in Kosovo, 9 to 1.

In Moscow, a senior Russian general warned that Western military intervention could pitch Europe into a new Cold War. Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, one of Russia's most senior generals, was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as warning against any military action by the alliance.

Ignoring NATO's show of force in the skies over the Balkans on Monday, Serbian leaders have been reinforcing their army and special police forces in the province, estimated by North Atlantic Treaty Organization sources at 45,000 to 50,000.

Serbian forces have sealed the border with Albania--cutting off an escape route for refugees--while reportedly continuing to attack border villages they claim are havens for the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army.

The ethnic Albanians' Kosovo Information Center said Serbian forces attacked nine villages Friday. The center also reported three more dead in western Kosovo.

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