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Kosovo Speaker Lashes Out at Serbia


The speaker of Kosovo's parliament is demanding Serbia release 10 men accused of war crimes carried out by ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

Jakup Krasniqi condemned the arrests Saturday and said the Serbian action was meant to provoke the not yet year-old country.

Serbian police arrested the men Friday after searching the southern town of Presevo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian area. Serbian officials say the 10 had been members of the Kosovo Liberation Army and committed war crimes during the Kosovo conflict.

Serbia's Interior Minister Ivica Dacic says Saturday the arrests do present a security risk and acknowledged the possibility of some retaliation. Serbian officials have said the arrests were carried out on the orders of the war crimes prosecutors.

Spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said the men are accused of killing at least 51 civilians and abducting 159 more between June and October of 1999.

The spokesman says they are also accused of torturing, looting and raping both Serb and non-Serb civilians in the eastern Kosovo municipality of Gnjilane, near the border with Serbia.

The sole ethnic Albanian member of Serbia's parliament, Riza Halimi, expressed surprise at the arrests and said they would do little to contribute to the stability of the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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