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Aid Delivery Arrives in Kosovo

August 1, 1998

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Despite prior assertions that Serbian forces had regained control of all highways, skirmishes with Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian rebels kept part of a main north-south road blocked, Serbian sources said today.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross managed to deliver food to refugees camping around Prizren near the Albanian border.

Many of the refugees in Prizren were among the thousands who fled recent fighting in Malisevo, a stronghold of the underground Kosovo Liberation Army that Serbian officials said had been recaptured by government forces.

However, the death early today of a Serb policeman in the Malisevo area suggested that not all the rebel fighters were gone. The policeman, Veroljub Ilic, was probably killed by a sniper, according to the pro-government Media Center in Pristina.

Police sources in Pristina, the Kosovo capital, said a stretch of the main road between Prizren and Pristina was blocked. They said police were trying to intercept small groups of KLA fighters apparently trying to evacuate following their defeat in Malisevo.

Sporadic fighting was reported to have been going on for some time in the area and neither side was in control.

A bomb blast that destroyed a kiosk early today in Pristina, close to the main hospital. No one was injured.

In Geneva, Red Cross spokesman Roland Sigler said the group had been able to deliver several tons of food to Malisevo refugees camping out near Prizren.

Sigler said there were up to 35,000 refugees in the southern town of Prizren while a small number were left behind in Malisevo.

U.S. special envoy Christopher Hill said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told him Friday he would take ``personal responsibility″ for letting U.N. and other aid workers deliver food, medicine, blankets and other supplies to Albanians hiding in forested hills after Serb forces drove the Kosovo Liberation Army from several strongholds.

Hill told reporters that Milosevic had also promised to allow international observers to escort the refugees back to their homes to prevent abuse by Serb police or local authorities.

Milosevic assured a European Union delegation Thursday that the week-long offensive was over. But he made no pledge to withdraw Serb forces from Kosovo, a province of Serbia where Albanians form 90 percent of the 2 million inhabitants.

The KLA and Albanian politicians want independence for Kosovo _ a province of Serbia, one of two republics that form Yugoslavia.

Despite Milosevic’s pledge to halt the offensive, Serb and Albanian sources reported scattered clashes Friday. The government’s Tanjug news agency said seven Albanian ``terrorists″ were killed and several were arrested Friday when they attacked Serb police near Lipljane, 12 miles south of Pristina.

The Albanian-controlled Kosovo Information Center also reported fighting Friday near Junik, a KLA stronghold near the Albanian border. Albanian officials said about 30 refugees _ mostly women and children _ fled into Albania on Friday from the Junik area.

Update hourly