The graves of dozens of ethnic Albanians have been discovered in a garbage dump in a separatist stronghold of Kosovo overrun by Serb forces last month, ethnic Albanians said Wednesday.
The village of Orahovac, 30 miles southwest of Pristina, was the scene of fierce battles in July between Serb forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army fighting for independence for the southern Serbian province.At least 60 civilians were killed in five days of fighting, according to the Pristina-based Committee for the Protection of Human Rights.
At a garbage dump about a half-mile outside Orahovac, an Associated Press Television crew Wednesday saw about 50 small mounds of earth, marked with sticks, some of them bearing ethnic Albanian names, others just numbers.
A small bulldozer, apparently used to level the terrain, was at the site.
The ethnic Albanian Koha Ditore daily in Pristina reported that at least 36 fresh graves had been discovered near the town on Tuesday.
Veton Surroi, a prominent ethnic Albanian politician who visited the dump Tuesday, said as many as 200 Albanians were killed in Orahovac, most of them in a mosque where they had taken refuge.
In Vienna, Austria, the respected newspaper Die Presse reported Wednesday that fresh graves of more than 500 people, including children, had been discovered in the Orahovac area by journalists.
A Serb police source confirmed police had buried "a number of bodies" in the Orahovac area after no one claimed them from a morgue after more than a week. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
European Union officials visiting Orahovac could not confirm that there was a mass grave there, an EU official told the Cable News Network on Wednesday.
"We have been out with one of our field teams. There can not be confirmed mass graves. There are allegedly single graves with names (on them) but no mass graves," EU official Walter Edenberg told CNN in an interview from Pristina.
Fighting continued Wednesday between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serb security forces in the central Kosovo region of Drenica, according to ethnic Albanian sources.
Milosevic sent forces to crush the KLA in March. Kosovo has a population of 2 million, of which Albanians outnumber Serbs 9-to-1.
Continued fighting has stymied plans to send international aid convoys to help refugees. Serb police have been barring or slowing aid groups and diplomatic observers from reaching tens of thousands of refugees driven from Kosovo villages.
The International Red Cross has reached a valley in Drenica where many refugees fled, but clashes have stalled their aid efforts.
Qirez, about 15 miles northwest of Pristina, is located in a valley in the western Drenica region that has been a target of a Serb onslaught now in its ninth day.