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NATO Peacekeepers Arrest Suspected Extremists in Kosovo - 2002-08-12

NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo have arrested three suspected members of what are described as armed extremists groups in the Yugoslav province. The arrests follow the detention on Sunday of a former ethnic Albanian rebel commander.

The KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo said three extremists were arrested in the provincial capital Pristina early Monday.

KFOR spokesman Drew Anderson said the three detainees posed an immediate threat to security in the Kosovo area. He gave no details about the ethnicity of the detainees, who were taken to the largest United States military installation under KFOR, known as Camp Bondsteel, some 50 kilometers south of Pristina.

Mr. Anderson said peacekeepers have taken additional measures to prevent extremist activity along the borders and administrative boundaries of Kosovo.

The arrests come at a time when the peacekeepers have increased efforts to combat extremism in the province, where ethnic tensions have continued.

On Sunday, U.N. police backed by KFOR peacekeepers detained a former commander of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army. Rustem Mustafa was taken into custody on charges of murder and torture.

Last week, KFOR arrested 19 people, 13 of them described as members of armed extremist groups, in a crackdown along the border with neighboring Macedonia.

Spokesman Anderson told reporters that these earlier arrests were not linked to the new detentions on Monday.

Kosovo was placed under a U.N. led administration in 1999, after NATO bombing drove out the Serb forces of ex-President Slobodan Milosevic in a bid to stop repression of the ethnic Albanian majority in the troubled province.