Kosova Information Center
Prishtina, 16 January 1999, 18:00 CET
  Sunday, a Day of National Mourning in Kosova

PRISHTINA, Jan 16 (KIC) - In observance of the victims of the massacre of scores of Albanians in Shtime area Friday by Serbian military and police forces, the President of the Republic of Kosova Ibrahim Rugova declared Sunday, 17 January 1999, a day of national mourning in Kosova, Rugova's Office said Saturday afternoon.

The President of the Republic of Kosova Ibrahim Rugova condemned in the strongest terms yesterday's (Friday's) massacre of the Albanian population in the village of Reçak, Shtime municipality, by Serbian military and police forces.

In a statement issued today (Saturday) afternoon, President Ibrahim Rugova demanded an "urgent intervention by NATO forces, in accordance with the Activation Order (ACTORD), which is in force", referring to NATO decisions for possible strikes against Serb military targets, adopted last autumn.

"Only a prompt, energetic and firm international intervention can stop the Serbian military and police machinery, and create the conditions for a political solution to the Kosova issue", President Ibrahim Rugova concluded.

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  At Bebush Foothill in Reçak, 23 Albanians Found Massacred

PRISHTINA, Jan 16 (KIC) - At the Bebush foothill, in the western part of Reçak village of Shtime, 25 km south of Prishtina, OSCE verifiers and journalists saw today the bodies of 23 Albanians massacred yesterday by Serbian forces. The Albanian civilians were of all ages.

Between 60 and 80 Albanians were killed by Serbian forces yesterday in Shtime area, according to local sources. 48 of them were identified by late afternoon today.

The KIC reporter saw the bodies of 23 Albanians lying on a ditch near the Bebush uphill.

Banush Azemi (6O) had his head cut off, whereas Ragip Bajrami (around 40 years old) had his heart extricated. The bodies of the other Albanians had signs of an execution from point-blank range, with bullets in their heads and necks.

Eye-witnesses said the 23 slain Albanians had been sheltered in a house basement, in a bid to avoid being hit by the Serb forces' shelling.

When Serb infantry troops entered the village, they rounded up the people and took them to the Bebush foothill, where they were executed.

Eye-witnesses said the mutilated body of a woman was inside her house. They said she had been slain in the family house courtyard and dragged inside the house by Serb forces. The killing of the woman had been witnessed by two children, her cousins, a girl and a boy. The small children hid in a bathroom outside the house, The girl, a little bit older than the boy, had forced the boy keep his mouth shut in order not to scream and thus be found by the Serb criminals.

Shukri Buja, a local UÇK (Kosova Liberation Army) commander, said the civilian Albanian population in Reçak was massacred by the Yugoslav army. There was no resistance in the village of Reçak, he claimed, adding that the UÇK units had tried to protect the Albanian population from the left wing. The OSCE verifiers' presence in the area prevented the UÇK from engaging the Serb troops, according to Buja.

Meanwhile, OSCE Kosova Verification Mission (KVM) head, William Walker, who was on the scene of the massacre today, said he could not find words to say something about this. He called it "a horrendous event", adding that it "looks like execution", the murder of villagers, farmers.

Ambassador Walker said he had seen other war scenes, but this was the most 'horrendous acts' he had seen.

The KVM head is to hold a press conference in Prishtina at 18:00 hrs.

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