Magazine article Newsweek International

'We Are Terrified'

Magazine article Newsweek International

'We Are Terrified'

Article excerpt

The last enclave of Serbs in southern Kosovo huddles atop a hillside in the town of Orahovac, a few miles north of Prizren. In a medieval warren of gray stone houses and cobblestone streets, 3,000 people waited fearfully over the past weekend to leave for the safety of Serbia. Many of them had fled from a mixed Serb-Albanian neighborhood located in the central part of Orahovac, moving in with relatives in this ethnically pure part of town. They were guarded by a dozen tanks and armored personnel carriers filled with German peacekeepers, who were unwilling-- or unable--to guarantee safe passage out. "We want to escape from this place," said a middle-aged Serb man smoking in the quarter's main square. "We are all terrified."

Serb civilians said that Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas had rampaged through their houses the last three days, stealing valuables and kidnapping young men. On Wednesday afternoon, Didac Boban, 36, and his mother, Mila, were driving through their ethnically mixed neighborhood in the lower part of Orahovac when their car broke down, Mila said. She claims that KLA troops ordered her son--a Yugoslav Army reservist--out of the car, placed him in another vehicle and sped off. "I went to the KLA headquarters to ask if my son was there," Boban's father said, as his wife wiped the tears from her face. "The commander told me that my son wasn't there. He offered me no more information." Boban said that the NATO troops had promised to help him locate his son; but German soldiers stationed in the enclave told NEWSWEEK that they had little time--or resources--to investigate individual kidnappings.

NATO had problems enough simply keeping peace between the two ethnic groups. As dozens of Serbs gathered fearfully around the tanks, a slight Albanian man wearing orange shorts and a T shirt asked the soldiers for help recovering his aunt's car, which he claimed had been stolen by the Serbs. …

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