Serb police battled ethnic Albanian militants near a border town in the southern province of Kosovo Wednesday, with both sides reporting fighters killed and wounded.

Heavy explosions could be heard, and houses were seen burning in the town of Tusis, near Kosovo's borders with Albania and Macedonia, and in nearby villages, the pro-Albanian Kosovo Information Center reported.It said civilians were fleeing the fighting and reported many dead and wounded. The center is close to Kosovo's independence-seeking ethnic Albanian politicians.

The Serb Media Center in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, said the clash began Tuesday when ethnic Albanian militants ambushed a Serb police patrol. Fifteen fighters of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army were killed and two policemen wounded, the center said.

The fighting 40 miles southwest of Pristina continued overnight and Wednesday, both sides said. The Serbs claimed police had gained the upper hand and captured fifteen rebel fighters.