Rebel leader gives report of atrocities

KLA commander pleads for food and weapons

War In Yugoslavia

April 04, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Speaking from inside Kosovo, a top commander of the rebel army described yesterday what he called massacres of civilians in parts of the province and continuing attacks by Yugoslav air force jets, tanks and artillery against villages despite 10 days of NATO bombing.

The commander, a member of the General Staff of the Kosovo Liberation Army who goes by the name Drini, also asked for the first time for emergency air drops of food from outside countries to ease what he called a "terrible" situation.

He also called for arms for the rebels.

The commander's account of killings, in a telephone interview, could not be independently confirmed. He is a figure well known to foreign journalists and verifiers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and has proved a reliable source of information in the past.

Since foreign journalists were expelled from Kosovo last week, precise information has been difficult to obtain on possible atrocities in the province and the level of resistance being offered by a desperately outgunned rebel army.

Yesterday, Drini said that he and his men were persevering in their fight against Serbian forces and trying to protect civilians, who are fleeing the province by the hundreds of thousands.

"We are doing tactical maneuvers to try and save the population from the Serb army," he said. "But where we are using a unit of 50 to 60 men, they are up against a whole division, with tanks, artillery and infantry."

If the outside world gave military support, he added, "we could do much more."

The Yugoslav forces are still bombing villages with MiG fighter jets, Drini said, and using tanks and heavy artillery.

Drini said that his forces were coming under heavy pressure as ammunition and food were running low.

"The humanitarian situation is terrible," he said.

Drini, who said he was wounded this week, related what he said were three separate incidents of mass killings of civilians by Serbian forces in the last two days.

He said 150 people, including women and children, had been found killed in Izbica, in the northern Drenica region, northeast of the Kosovo capital, Pristina.

Another 70 had been killed in the village of Pusto Selo, and another 34 people in Jovic, he said.

None of the incidents could be confirmed independently.

Pub Date: 4/04/99

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