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'THE DAILY TELEGRAPH(LONDON)'
Wednesday 28 March 2001
"SAS troops seize Kosovo bomb suspects"
By Christian Jennings in Pristina
THE SAS has seized at least five ethnic Albanians suspected of a bus
bomb attack in Kosovo which killed 11 Serb civilians, including a
Troops from 22 SAS were sent to Kosovo to lead the arrest operation last
week, it emerged yesterday. Including those involved in surveillance,
3,000 British and Norwegian soldiers took part. A total of 22 Albanians
were held. They were held in custody in the provincial capital, Pristina,
and around the north-western town of Podujevo, near the scene of the
bomb blast in February last year. The attack was the worst incident in
Kosovo for 18 months.
Western defence sources said that the arrest operation, which lasted 27
hours, was spearheaded by British SAS teams. The units, trained in
counter-terrorist warfare and close-quarter combat, were requested by
Britain's senior commander in Kosovo, Brigadier Hamish Rollo of the
Soldiers from the 1st Bn the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and the 2nd
Regiment were also involved.
After initial questioning, four Albanians were detained in connection
with the bombing.
They are all members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, the Western-backed
civil defence organisation which sprang from the Kosovo Liberation Army
when it was demilitarised in 1999. Some members of the KLA had been
trained by the SAS.
International security sources in Pristina said it was likely that three
of the men would be freed today because of insufficient evidence.
But one high-ranking KPC official is expected to be charged or kept in
Although the operation was a military success, the identity of the men
arrested is bound to prove highly embarrassing for Western governments.
As a supposed civil defence organisation, the KPC receives funding and
training in human rights, first aid, fire-fighting and language skills
from Britain, the European Union, America and a host of international
organisations. They include the International Organisation for Migration
and the United Nations.
Links between the KPC and organised crime and political violence are an
open secret in Kosovo. The KPC's alleged involvement in the killing of
the 11 Serbs - an incident which was condemned around the world - comes
at a highly sensitive time for Nato and the UN in Kosovo.
At the time of the attack, Britain's senior commander in Kosovo,
Brigadier Rob Fry of the Royal Marines, called it "a ruthless and
premeditated act of mass murder". The explosion destroyed a bus carrying
more than 50 Serbs who were returning to Kosovo after visiting their
ancestors' graves in Serbia.
Since Nato troops entered Kosovo in June 1999, the UN, human rights
groups and Nato sources have said that former members of the KLA have
been involved in numerous incidents of murder and violence against
ethnic minorities in Kosovo.
Kfor, the 44,000-strong Nato peacekeeping force in Kosovo, said the
arrest operation showed "conclusive evidence of . . . absolute and
unswerving commitment to defeat terrorism and extremism and to create an
environment here in which democracy and the rule of law can flourish."
(c) 2001 Telegraph Reposted For Fair Use Only
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