Ethnic Albanians staged their biggest protest in a decade Monday to condemn Serbia's deadly crackdown in Kosovo. The United States and five other foreign powers imposed new sanctions to try to halt the violence.
"All we need are weapons to fight the Serb power," declared one of the roughly 50,000 protesters, architecture student Visar Bajraktar.Ethnic Albanians said Monday that at least 62 people, including 14 women and 12 children, old men and entire families, died in the second of two police sweeps last week through Kosovo, an increasingly tense province where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs 9-to-1.
"The Serb regime has committed an atrocity," said Enver Maloku, spokesman for the ethnic Albanians' Kosovo Information Center.
His account and casualty toll could not be independently confirmed. The official toll from last week's two sweeps of villages west of the capital, Pristina, included 46 Albanians and six Serb policemen killed.
Brushing aside foreign criticism, the Serbs say they had to crack down on a militant group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has claimed 50 killings in the past 19 months, and crush Kosovo's attempts to win independence from Serbia, the dominant republic of Yugoslavia.
Kosovo was the heartland of Serbia's medieval empire, and Serbs vow they will never give it up.
Maloku said some ethnic Albanians managed to view bodies of those killed while they were in Pristina morgue. Police moved the bodies Sunday evening to the town of Srbica, the center of last week's crackdown, about 25 miles west of Pristina.
Associated Press photographers managed to get into Srbica, which was heavily patrolled by police, for a brief look at a construction yard where dozens of bodies - covered with one long white sheet with heads and legs protruding - were lined up in two rows. A tractor lumbered through the rain, dumping another corpse.
Police allowed the APTV crew to film only one body. The Serbs said he was Adem Jashari and identified him as the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The corpse appeared to be the same man who has been pictured in Serbian media in recent days. Police previously had turned back reporters trying to reach Srbica.
Relatives were refusing to pick up the bodies, demanding autopsies by internationally appointed forensic experts, Maloku said.
He said the Serbs were anxious to hold funerals Tuesday and accused them of wanting to cover up their alleged crimes. Serb sources denied that, saying they want burial only because bodies are beginning to decompose.
For the first time since restive Kosovo was stripped of autonomy in 1989, police did not interfere with Monday's 50-minute protest, flashing victory signs and waving banners demanding outside intervention.
Heavily armed riot squads sat in buses in side streets, and police with submachine guns and bulletproof vests formed cordons but did not break up the crowd. "We got orders from Belgrade not to beat them," said a policeman who insisted on anonymity.
A similar protest in Pristina last week ended with riot police lobbing tear gas and clubbing demonstrators as they ran.
The lack of police intervention this time was a clear sign that Serbian authorities did not want violence on the day of an international meeting in London. The conference agreed Monday on an arms embargo and other measures against Yugoslavia in response to the crackdown.
President Slobodan Milosevic will face further sanctions unless special police units are withdrawn from Kosovo within 10 days, said representatives of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.
The conference also urged ethnic Albanians to enter into negotiations without conditions to seek an end to the unrest.
"What we agreed to today I think is a satisfactory result in our efforts to ensure that diplomatic efforts are backed up with effective pressure," U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said. "We obviously are going to keep our eye on the ball and make sure that this agreement sticks."
The conference also called on ethnic Albanians to enter into negotiations without conditions to seek an end to the unrest.
"The situation in Kosovo cries out for a political solution. We demand that President Milosevic now commences a political dialogue with the moderate, peaceful leadership of the Kosovar people in order to find the solution that provides the increased autonomy that the people of Kosovo want, and to which they are entitled," said British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, the chairman of the conference.
Ethnic Albanians, meanwhile, reported several people clubbed by police who did break up crowds in two other Kosovo towns, Pec and Klina, and said shooting was heard in a third town, Istok. Serb sources denied there was any violence.
At least 25,000 ethnic Albanians took to the streets in three other Kosovo towns where no incidents were reported, the Albanians' Kosovo Information Center said.