Expatica news

Belgian troopshead for Kosovo

24 March 2004

BRUSSELS – A plane carrying 194 troops from Belgium and Luxembourg took off from a military airfield near Brussels on Wednesday morning bound for the troubled Balkan region of Kosovo.

The troops are being sent to reinforce NATO’s Kosovo peacekeeping force KFOR, which has come under increasing strain since ethnic tension in the Serbian province flared up again last week.

The soldiers were not due to leave Belgium until the end of the week but they were sent early following a request for reinforcements from KFOR commanders on the ground in Kosovo.

The arrival of the latest contingent of troops will almost double Belgium’s military presence in the province.

Early on Wednesday morning a UN police officer and a local policeman were shot dead in Kosovo in what many analysts are already saying may well have been more than a random drive-by shooting.

The incident follows clashes last week between Serbs and ethnic Albanians that left 30 people dead and 600 injured in the province.

Kosovo has been under United Nations control since a NATO bombing campaign drove the Serb army out of the province in 1999.

Most ethnic Albanians in Kosovo want full independence from Serbia and are becoming increasingly angry with the UN presence, which they argue was only ever supposed to be a temporary measure.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news