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Monday, April 19, 1999 Published at 02:56 GMT 03:56 UK

World: Europe

Belgrade ups pressure on neighbours

Refugees are continuing to flee in their thousands

Yugoslavia has broken diplomatic relations with Albania, accusing it of launching continuous attacks over the border and complicity in Nato raids.

Kosovo: Special Report
The announcement comes a day after Nato's supreme commander, General Wesley Clarke visited Albania which is playing host to a growing force of US troops.

During his visit General Clarke announced the imminent deployment of 24 Apache attack helicopters for use against Serb forces in Kosovo, although their arrival in Tirana has since been delayed by bad weather.

The BBC's Jackie Rowland in Belgrade: "Unbearable strain caused by links between the KLA and Albania"
Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic accused Albania of carrying out aggression against Yugoslav territory in Kosovo and said there was no purpose in maintaining relations.

He also said large quantities of military equipment were being smuggled into Kosovo.

At the same time the Yugoslav army is moving against rebellious figures in the government of Montenegro, the junior partner in the Yugoslav federation which has been trying to stay neutral in the conflict.

Fierce critic

[ image: Albania is playing host to a growing Nato force]
Albania is playing host to a growing Nato force
The Yugoslav military prosecutor is seeking to arrest the Montenegrin deputy prime minister, Novak Kilibarda, a fierce critic of the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Kilibarda has been accused of undermining Yugoslavia's defence and military capabilities by encouraging army reservists to dodge the draft.

Officials of the Montenegrin parliamentary assembly say the military has no authority to strip Mr Kilibarda of his parliamentary immunity.

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen: "More compelling evidence of war crimes"
In Montenegro itself more refugees have continued to flood across the border from Kosovo, adding to the 63,000 that have arrived there since the bombing began. They have brought with them further allegations of Serb brutality.

One column of refugees arriving from the city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo told reporters they had travelled for more than 24 hours after being forced from their homes by Serb security forces.

'Leave now'

[ image: New refugees bring new allegations of attrocities]
New refugees bring new allegations of attrocities
Most had to leave their possessions behind and said the Serbs had shot at least two men for not obeying their orders to leave quickly enough.

One eyewitness saw the body of a decapitated woman lying by the roadside. Another said that a Serb policeman told him, "Don't come back, leave now. Ask Bill Clinton and Tony Blair to look after you."

Earlier as refugees continued to enter Albania five Kosovan refugees including three children were killed when their car hit a landmine in the no-man's land between the Serb and Albanian sides of the border.

No warning

The BBC's Kevin Connolly: "A major blow in the campaign"
Serb troops have been seen laying mines either side of the road in the past few days, but relatives of the dead say they were not warned of the dangers.

Serbian troops were also reported to have shelled a line of refugees, killing one and injuring 22 at the same border crossing at Morina.

[ image: US Apache helicopters are due to be deployed soon]
US Apache helicopters are due to be deployed soon
More than 23,000 Kosovo Albanians passed into Albania on Saturday, taking the total to around 375,000.

Nearly three-quarters of a million poeple are estimated to have fled Kosovo since the crisis began in March last year.

Swiss diplomats have been holding talks with officials in Belgrade to discuss ways of delivering relief supplies to all areas of Yugoslavia including people within Kosovo, not just those arriving as refugees in other countries.

Issues under consideration include the safety of aid workers and freedom of movement within the country.

Raids intensify

Nato says the air campaign against Yugoslavia is intensifying with more than 500 missions flown in a space of 24 hours over the weekend. On Sunday night air rade sirens were again heard in Belgrade, with explosions reported in western Serbia.

Serbian media reports bridges, airfields and oil installations have come under attack and Nato itself said it had also destroyed 13 military vehicles inside Kosovo.

A pall of black smoke loomed over Belgrade after Nato hit three industrial plants on the outskirts of the city, but the authorities have now given assurances that the risks of pollution are limited following earlier warnings that toxic fumes could reach the centre of Belgrade.

(Click here for a map showing recent Nato strikes)

Grave diggers

Nato said on Sunday it had aerial photographs of 43 suspected mass graves in Kosovo.

Military spokesman Brigadier-General Guiseppe Marani said the alliance also had evidence that Kosovo Albanians had been forced to dig the graves of their countrymen.

[ image: Arkan: Wanted for crimes against humanity]
Arkan: Wanted for crimes against humanity
Nato also said it believed a notorious Serb militia known as the Tigers was taking part in ethnic cleansing around the town of Pec in western Kosovo.

The Tigers are thought to have been responsible for some of the worst cases of ethnic cleansing and mass rapes during the 1992-1995 war in neighbouring Bosnia.

Their leader, Zeljho Raznatovic or 'Arkan', has been indicted for crimes against humanity by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

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