As Kosovo Albanians flood over border, leaders plead for help

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) — Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians pleaded Wednesday for NATO intervention to stop what they called a Serb campaign of forced expulsions from their independence-seeking province. Another 2,000 villagers poured across the border to escape the Serb onslaught.
Serb police and paramilitary units shelled at least five villages in western Kosovo, setting houses ablaze and sending more residents fleeing into neighboring Albania, according to Albanian sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Serb authorities have sealed off the area of the conflict, making it impossible to independently assess the situation. Dozens are believed dead since Serbs stepped up their campaign to wipe out the pro-independence Kosovo Liberation Army last week. At least 80 people were killed in a similar crackdown in March; in all this year, clashes have killed more than 200.
In Washington, the State Department signaled the possibility of additional international sanctions against Yugoslavia for provoking the flood of refugees from Kosovo.
Top aides to Ibrahim Rugova, the president of the Albanians’ self-proclaimed independent government, talked with a European delegation in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. They accused the Serbs of a “planned-out scheme of ethnic cleansing throughout the province.”
NATO must intervene, they told the delegation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, headed by Javier Ruperez.
They urged world powers to increase pressure on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is determined to keep Kosovo from breaking away from Serbia, one of two remaining republics in Yugoslavia.
A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said 2,000 refugees crossed overnight into Albania, bringing the total to about 3,700 since the Serb assault was launched late last week.
Albania’s state-run ATA news agency said about 3,000 more refugees were approaching the border.
Ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs by 9-to-1 in Kosovo and are increasingly insistent on autonomy or independence.