- Title: BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA: ITALIAN TROOPS LEAVE TO BOLSTER NATO FORCES IN PRISTINA.
- Date: 19th March 2004
- Summary: (EU) SARAJEVO, BOSNIA (MARCH 18, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. LV/GV: ITALIAN PEACEKEEPING TROOPS BOARDING A HUGE U.S. MILITARY TRANSPORT PLANE AT SARAJEVO AIRPORT; TROOPS WAITING TO BOARD/ VEHICLES ON AIRPORT RUNWAY (5 SHOTS) 0.31 2. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) SFOR SPOKESMAN CAPTAIN DAVE SULLIVAN SAYING: "Currently behind us right now, we have approximately 70 Italian Caribinieri soldiers from the multi-specialised unit, preparing to depart for Kosovo to support the KFOR soldiers there." 0.44 3. GV: JEEP DRIVING DOWN AIRPORT ROAD; SOLDIERS BOARDING JEEPS (2 SHOTS) 1.04 4. LV: SOLDIERS BOARDING TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT 1.16 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 3rd April 2004 13:00
- Location: SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
- Country: Bosnia
- Reuters ID: LVA3NXZ4XO0342C4PPIZI9HQCTRP
- Story Text: Italian troops leave Sarajevo for Pristina to
bolster NATO forces.
A plane carrying 80 Italian peacekeeping troops
meant to reinforce KFOR troops in Kosovo left Sarajevo on
Thursday (March 18).
The troops boarded the huge U.S. military transport
plane at Sarajevo airport, bound for Pristina, and should
arrive there by mid-afternoon.
NATO decided to summon reinforcements after 22 people
were killed in Kosovo on Wednesday (March 17) in the worst
ethnic clashes there since NATO and the U.N. took control
in 1999. Some 500 have been injured, of whom 20 were in
The alliance said it was sending in extra troops from
nearby Bosnia to help quell violence between Albanians and
Serbs. A company of 100-150 U.S. troops was already on its
way and two others were on standby.
Up to 1,000 more troops will be scrambled by NATO to
stifle the explosion of ethnic violence that erupted across
Kosovo on Wednesday (March 18).
Houses, cars and churches were set ablaze in Mitrovica,
Obilic, and Pristina. Reports from Obilic said NATO
peacekeepers had evacuated about 100 Serbs, because it
could not guarantee their safety -- as happened on
Wednesday night in the capital, Pristina.
The new troops will reinforce 17,500 peacekeepers and
9,000 local and international police trying to keep a lid
on the province of two million Muslim Albanians demanding
independence and 100,000 Serbs, many in enclaves relying on
NATO protection. Britain readied 750 troops for Kosovo
In Serbia the Interior Ministry put paramilitary police
on the boundary with Kosovo on the top level of combat
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said the
violence had been "planned and organised" by ethnic
Albanians bent on driving the remaining Serbs from the
province and urged the U.N. Security Council to act to
deter such "ethnic cleansing".
In Prague, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
called on "all parties in Kosovo itself, but also in
Belgrade of course, to show the utmost restraint" and
prevent any further violence.
Flights in and out of Kosovo were suspended and
internal boundaries with Serbia were closed. Troops of a
dozen nations patrolled key areas, some next to gutted Serb
In a severe blow to international hopes of calm before
talks this year or next on Kosovo's future status, the outburst of
-up ethnic hatred in over a dozen locations
suggested that reconciliation between the two communities
was years away.
The violence triggered angry protests in Serbia's three
main cities, where demonstrators stoned and burned mosques
and other Islamic buildings. Serbs, whose forces were
driven out of Kosovo by NATO in 1999, were furious at their
own impotence and what they say is NATO's failure to check
U.N. police and vehicles and NATO troops were attacked
and one policeman guarding a building in Pristina was shot
in the leg.
Kosovo has been under U.N. control since NATO bombing
forced out Serbian forces in mid-1999, halting Serb
repression of Muslim Albanian civilians.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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