Low Intensity Conflict
10 out of 100 UCK “Gnjilane Group” members arrested in Serbia, threats from NLA group member in FYROM
27. December 2008. | 09:28 10:19
City: Preševo, Skopje
Author: Nikos Arvanites
Photo: Agencies, Nikos Arvanites
Members of the so-called Gnjilane Group of the Kosovo Liberation Army suspected of kidnapping 159 Serb civilians and killing at least 51 between June-October 1999. Former NLA commader Xhesair Shaqiri,told Alsat M TV on Tuesday that the former NLA could be reestablished in FYR Macedonia.
The Serbian police have searched 17 facilities yesterday morning in the area of the Presevo municipality in southern Serbia, and they have arrested 10 members of hte former self-proclaimed KLA, who are suspected of committing a war crime in the region of Gnjilane in 1999, i.e. kidnapping and murdering more than 50 Serb civilians and other non-Albanians.
Serbian Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic has told the press conference that the leaders of the so-called “Gnjilane group” Fazli Haidari, Rexhep Ajiri and Shaip Shaqiri have escaped the arrest because they live in Gnjilan, in Kosmet.
They will not have an international warrant issued after them, as they do not live in another state, but we will require help from UNMIK, explained Dacic. He added that the War Crimes Prosecution has other information as well, so the process will be wider in scope.
The Minister has stated that weapons and other evidence have been found in the possession of the arrested persons, indicating the war crimes against civilians.
The kidnapped and murdered Serbs were previously kept and tortured in three locations in Gnjilane, and all previously found bodies are showing the evidence of dying from torture, Dacic underlined.
“On the basis of a criminal complaint and on a warrant issued by War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic, MUP members have arrested a number of people, members of the so-called KLA Gniljan Group on suspicion of perpetrating crimes against the civilian population, Serbs and non-Albanians, in Gniljane in 1999,” said the minister.
Those arrested include Nazif Hasani, Ahmet Hasani, Faton Hajdari, Samet Hajdari, Ferat Hajdari, Kamber Sahiti, Agush Memishi, Burim Gazliju and Selimon Sadiki.
“Ten people have been taken into custody. I should point out that the leaders of the group are Fazlia Aydari, Rexhep Aliji and Shaqip Shaqiri, who are currently outside this region. They are currently out of the reach of our authorities and live in Gniljane,” added Dacic.
“We’re looking here at the arrest of a significant number of individuals, members of the so-called Gnjilane Group of the Kosovo Liberation Army suspected of kidnapping 159 Serb civilians and killing at least 51 between June-October 1999. What stands out in these cases is that these crimes were perpetrated in a particularly cruel manner, in three locations in Gniljane,” he said.
The crime in Gnjilane against local Serbs and other non-Albanians took place after NATO troops, KFOR, arrived in Kosovo in the wake of the 1999 war.
The suspects arrested today were members of the so-called Gnjilane Group, tasked with cleansing the remaining Serbs from that area of the province.
Many of the victims were killed in a boarding school in the town. They were first taken there, stripped naked, tied up, severely beaten and stabbed with knives. Parts of their bodies were cut off before they were viciously murdered.
Several of the victims died after their killers checked “how many bodies a single bullet can go through”. The victims’ bodies were then dismembered and taken to different locations in order to hide the crime.
The Gnjilane Group had some 100 members from southern areas of central Serbia, and from FYRMacedonia.
The group operated as part of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA – an armed group of ethnic Albanians set up in the mid 1990s which Serbia designated a terrorist organization.
The arrest of 10 former members of the KLA suspected of war crimes against civilians in Kosmet in 1999 will will contribute to stability in the south of Serbia, the Coordination Body of the Serbian Government for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja Municipalities announced.
It is pointed out in the announcement that bringing the suspects to justice represents a permanent goal of the Serbian state and a debt to war crime victims and their families, regardless of their nationality or religion.
The Coordination Body emphasizes that the action of the arrest was carried out in line with the law and represents a significant step aimed at removing potential threats to security in the region of southern Serbian municipalities.
It is also emphasized that the Serbian authorities fully respect all the agreements on the appeasement of the criss in the region of the three municipalities in southern Serbia and especially the provisions of the document on the amnesty of former members of the so-called Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja of May 2001.
Serbs in eastern Kosmet have greeted the arrest of members of the former KLA suspected of crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians.
More than 100 Serb and other non-Albanian civilians have been kidnapped and killed in that region since 1999.
The head of the Serbian Ministry for Kosmet Office in Kosovsko Pomoravlje, Predrag Stojkovic, said that the victims included weak and old persons and that their families suffer immensely, particulary in the cases when the fate of the kidnapped is unknown.
According to the records of the Association of Missing and Kidnapped Persons from Kosovsko Pomoravlje, 114 persons have been kidnapped and killed in eastern Kosmet since 1999.
A key figure of the 2001 ethnic Albanian insurgency against Macedonian forces said the disbanded rebel group National Liberation Army could be revived to protect local Albanians from harrassment by the police.
Fomer NLA commader Xhesair Shaqiri, who is wanted by Macedonian police on racketeering charges, told Alsat M TV on Tuesday that police raids and arrests over the murder of a former NLA member in late November were deliberately targeted against former fighters.
“We have our methods of defence, and I can say without a doubt that we possess enough capacity to re-establish the former NLA”, said Shaqiri, who goes by the nom de guerre ‘Commander Hoxha’.
The police raids were sparked by the murder of a 39-year old ethnic Albanian ex-NLA fighter who had joined the special anti-crime Alfa police unit after the rebels disbanded. He was killed in Skopje by unknown gunmen, who also injured two other policemen..
The local television station that secured the interview said that Shaqiri is hiding in the village of Tanusevsi by the border with Kosovo, where smugglers and criminals have carved out a police no-go area. Shaqiri denies any connection with criminal groups.
NATO and the European Union intervened heavily to end the six-month NLA insurgency, brokering the Ohrid peace deal guaranteeing greater cultural and political rights to Macedonia’s 25-percent ethnic Albanian minority.
The BBC’s Rushdi Aboualouf in the Gaza Strip described the chaos as Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Hamas targets, killing at least 155 Palestinians.
Israeli planes are still flying over Gaza and they have just targeted another Hamas [security] compound in the middle of the Gaza Strip, in a place called Khan Younis.
We can see from our office here in Gaza, in the middle of Gaza City, ambulances are still evacuating the injured from buildings and school kids are trying to find secure places.
People who were going to their work were turned back and went home, and most of the residents in Gaza have been ordered by the Ministry of Health to stay indoors.
The mosques in Gaza are calling the people here to go to the hospitals and to donate blood. There is no room in the hospitals as far as we’ve heard from Hamas sources to treat the people.
No safe places
It’s a very bad situation… There were Israeli aeroplanes everywhere, hitting everywhere. You could see smoke from north to south, from west to east. The people are really in a panic. The main object for the people now is to find a secure place to secure their family.
It’s hard to find a secure place in Gaza. Gaza has no shelters, it has no safe places. The Hamas security compounds are in the middle of the city – it’s not the kind of place where you see compounds outside the cities.
I have witnessed one of the compounds – which is 20m away from my house – I was standing on the balcony and I have seen the Israeli airplanes hitting the place.
Some of my balcony was damaged and my kid was injured and it’s a very, very serious situation here in Gaza, the people can’t do anything except stay indoors.
27/12/2008 Israeli occupation army is committing the worst massacres against the humanity in the Gaza Strip. On Saturday IAF attacked the Strip killing over 155 Palestinians and wounding over 200 others with the blessings of the International community and the Arab governments.
After it has closed its borders with the Strip for many months, participating in the Israeli tight blockade against the Palestinians, Egypt on Saturday condemned the Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip and said it would open its Rafah border crossing with the besieged territory.
Meanwhile, many Arab officials and religious figures called Al-Manar TV Channel to condemn the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinians, calling for instant protests by the Arab people all over the World.
Anwar Raja, the media official in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said to Al-Manar that there is an international and Arab collusion against the Palestinians in the besieged Strip and against the Palestinian cause. Raja accused Egypt of participating in the Israeli siege adding that Egypt was opening Rafah crossing now in front of the funerals instead of opening it in front of Gaza children during the holidays.
Moreover, Hezbollah International Relations officer Nawwaf Moussawi said that the current situation in Gaza is very similar to Lebanon July war in 2006 where Israel launched an aggression against Lebanon under an international and Arab umbrella. Moussawi added that the main aim of this Israeli, international and Arab conspiracy is to eliminate the Palestinian cause.
27/12/2008 Hamas said it had fired rockets into the Israeli settlements on Saturday in retaliation for a wave of massive air strikes that killed at least 155 people in its Gaza Strip stronghold. Hamas had launched dozens of projectiles on the settlements. Four Grad rockets fired from Gaza landed in open areas in Ashkelon and its surroundings.
The Israeli occupation army said three rockets and two mortars had fallen within Israeli settlements. One Israeli settler was killed and six others were wounded when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in Netivot.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on Netivot.
“Hamas will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, speaking on a Gaza radio station.
Earlier, and after the Israeli massacres Hamas called on its fighters to hit back at the Zionist entity. “We call on all units to avenge with force against the enemy,” a Hamas spokesman said in a message broadcast on the Islamic movement’s radio.
“All fighters are ordered to respond to the Israeli slaughter,” said a statement by the Islamic Jihad group, echoing statements issued by Hamas and other armed resistance factions.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said that he was in “urgent contact” with numerous countries over the deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.