NATO-led peacekeepers send reinforcements to the border

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia - NATO sent reinforcements to the tense southern Kosovo boundary Friday after clashes between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Yugoslav forces.

About 250 additional British soldiers were sent to patrol outside a three-mile buffer zone separating Yugoslavia's southern province of Kosovo and its main province of Serbia.

Violence escalated last week as ethnic Albanian militants launched attacks into the buffer zone, capturing several strategic points in Serbia proper. At least five people, including four Serb policemen, were killed.

The NATO move reflects the alliance's increasing desperation to stop ethnic Albanians from sneaking out of Kosovo to help their ethnic kin fighting Serb police across the boundary. Kosovo is internationally run.

NATO-led peacekeepers want to minimize the threat of the militants to Yugoslav authorities in the boundary area, said Flight Lt. Mark A. Whitty, a NATO spokesman.

But the alliance acknowledges the deployment is small, given the area to cover; it stretches 50 miles.

''There are never enough troops to provide watertight security,'' said Whitty. ''What we are doing is by deploying our operational reserve, increasing the number of troops on the ground, (is) therefore increasing the security.''

Kosovo is overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian, and the buffer zone between Kosovo and Serbia has a large ethnic Albanian population. Militants, who have been fighting Serb police, are demanding to join Kosovo and want independence from Serbia.

Meanwhile in Kosovo, a member of the biggest ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic League of Kosovo headed by Ibrahim Rugova, was shot and wounded in the town of Podujevo, 25 miles northeast of Pristina, U.N. spokeswoman Claire Trevena said.

Ejup Visoka, 40, a finance official of Podujevo municipality, was driving in a car when he was hit, Trevena said. He underwent surgery at Pristina hospital and was not in life-threatening condition, she said.

Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo defeated leaders of the former rebel Kosovo Liberation Army in municipal elections last month.

International officials had expressed concern at the time that some of the losers in that election may not abide by the results.


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