06 February 2007

Albanian paramilitary groups operate in Western Kosovo

Albanian paramilitary groups operate in Western Kosovo

Exchange of gunfire between police and armed groups in Western Kosovo

PRISTINA, December 7 (Tanjug)

During the past several days Kosovo police clashed with a group of armed and masked men on the territory of Metohija (Western part of UN Province of Kosovo) who on several occasions put up illegal checkpoints and inspected vehicle traffic, (Albanian language) electronic media in Pristina reported today, citing police officials in Kosovo.

According to regional police administrators based in Pec, masked and armed men began to put up checkpoints on rural roads during the night. 

Police reacted quickly when this was reported by citizens. Near the village of Grcin close to Djakovica, there was an exchange of gunfire between approximately ten masked men and strong police forces. No one was hurt and several of the masked men disappeared into the nearby woods.

The appearance of masked and armed men in western Kosovo was last recorded more than a year ago. The region where they put control checkpoints then was in the same location as now along the route between Decani and Djakovica.

At that time one armed group near Djakovica stopped and disarmed a KFOR military patrol. This was followed by a major campaign by international troops to find the armed groups but they were unsuccessful.

After several days of reports of armed and masked groups of men, the command of the international military forces in Kosovo confirmed their presence.

Informed sources state that the appearance of armed and masked groups is tied to the increasingly uncertain resolution of the Kosovo crisis and negotiations led by international UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

Additional information from a UNMIK police report:

Masked men armed with rocket launchers

Grcina/Gërçinë village, 10 km SE of Ðakovica/Gjakovë – 05/12 – 2105 hrs: An anonymous person reported that approx 10 masked suspects had mounted an illegal VCP. When KPS officers went to the scene, the suspects fired at them and fled. KPS returned fire but no injuries were reported. An anonymous person who identified himself as a member of the Albanian National Army called the Police Station three times and asked if there were any injuries to KPS officers. He claimed to be calling from Priština/Prishtinë and stated that his group did not suffer any casualties. 6/12: Police found a handset, a flash light, an AK-47 magazine, a cartridge case and a rocket launcher loaded with a projectile.

From Kosovo-Albanian media:

Masked And Armed Persons Appeared In Dukagjini Region

Pristina, 06 Dec (RTK - Kosovo Radio Television)

After almost a year, the masked and armed persons reappeared at the roads of Dukagjini region, and stopped and checked the identification documents of the pedestrians.
The spokesperson of the police in the Pec region, Avni Gjuvukaj, stated that last night at about 21:00 o’clock, masked and armed persons set up an illegal check point at the Gerqin village of Djakovica municipality in order to stop and check the identification documents of the pedestrians.
According to him, after the Djakovica police units were informed, they immediately reacted and went to the scene where they met a group comprised of 10 masked and armed persons. The spokesperson added that the police immediately took actions and began chasing the masked persons, who began shooting and managed to escape through the forest which was near. The police also responded with fire shootings to the masked persons. According to the spokesperson, there was no one injured.

The regional unit for serious crimes is investigating the procedure of this case. The regional police do not have information to have seen other check points established by the armed and masked persons in this zone.