KOSOVO WAR CRIMES CHRONOLOGY: January 1998 - April 1999

Human Rights Watch
April 28, 1999

War crimes and crimes against humanity by the Yugoslav forces in Kosovo have been a focus of international attention since the NATO bombing began on March 24, 1999. However, civilians have been the targets of war crimes and other violations of humanitarian law since the Kosovo conflict began in early 1998.

Below is a chronology of the major war crimes Human Rights Watch has documented from January 1998 to April 1999. This list is far from exhaustive. It is meant only to provide a context for the serious abuses now being committed by Serbian and Yugoslav government forces.

The list also includes abuses committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, such as kidnappings and summary executions, although the vast majority of the violations over the past year are attributable to the Serbian police or Yugoslav Army. For a more detailed account of these and other incidents, see the Human Rights Watch website.

February 28-March 1, 1998 Serbian special police units attacked the towns of Likosane and Qirez in the Drenica region of Kosovo with combat helicopters, armored vehicles and heavy shelling, leaving twenty-five ethnic Albanians dead. Ten members of the Ahmeti family were summarily executed and four brothers of the Sejdiu family died while in police custody. See: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998.

March 5-7, 1998 Serbian special police attacked the family compound of Adem Jashari, a local KLA leader, in Donji Prekaz. An estimated fifty-eight members of the Jashari family were killed, including eighteen women and ten children under the age of sixteen. At least six ethnic Albanians were killed in unclear circumstances in the nearby village of Lausa. See: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998.

May 25, 1998 Evidence strongly suggests that at least nine and possibly as many as twenty-nine ethnic Albanians were summarily executed by Serbian special police in Ljubeni, a village near Pec. See: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998.

May 31, 1998 An estimated 300 special police forces attacked the village of Novi Poklek in Drenica. Police forces seized ten ethnic Albanian men, of whom one is confirmed dead and nine remain missing and are presumed dead. Police reportedly looted and burned over two dozen homes. See: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998.

July 19, 1998 The KLA began its first major offensive, an attack on the town of Orahovac. At least forty-two people were killed in the fighting, and on estimate, another forty remain unaccounted for. Reports of mass graves and summary executions surfaced, but remain unconfirmed. See: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, October 1998.

August 27, 1998 Twenty-two civilians were reportedly executed by KLA members in the village of Kleka. See: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998.

September 9, 1998 The bodies of thirty-four people, including both ethnic Serbs and Albanians, were found in an artificial lake near the village of Glodjane. The evidence strongly suggests that they were killed by the KLA. See: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998.

September 26, 1998 Serbian special police forces massacred twenty-one members of the Delijaj family, including women and children, one as young as eighteen-months-old, in Gornje Obrinje. Later the same day, police forces killed three other villagers in another part of the town. In Golubovac, a village several kilometers from Gornje Obrinje, thirteen civilian men were executed (with one survivor). See: A Week of Terror in Drenica, Human Rights Watch, February 1999.

January 15, 1999 A total of forty-five ethnic Albanians were killed in Racak by the Serbian special police. At least twenty-three were apparently executed, and eighteen others, including a twelve-year-old boy and two women, were also killed. See: Yugoslav Government War Crimes in Racak, Human Rights Watch, January 1999.

March 25, 1999 Refugees reported that more than sixty ethnic Albanian men were executed in Bela Crkva, including twenty members of the Popaj family and twenty-five members of the Zhuniqi family. See: HRW Kosovo Human Rights Flash #27, April 17, 1999.

March 26, 1999 Yugoslav forces reportedly killed forty ethnic Albanian men in Velika Krusa. See: HRW Kosovo Human Rights Flash #18, April 4, 1999.

April 1-4, 1999 According to refugees, Yugoslav security forces killed at least forty-seven men in a violent depopulation campaign in Djakovica. See: HRW Kosovo Human Rights Flash #26, April 13, 1999.

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