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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Some Police Not Fit for Kosovo Duty

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- Even as it assembles to help NATO-led peacekeepers enforce order, Kosovo's international police force is being hampered by the unsuitable qualifications of some candidates.

The problem is slowing deployments and adding to the security worries of UN and NATO officials trying to introduce a sense of normalcy into Kosovo. The province is scarred by more than a year of bloodshed that culminated in the mass expulsions of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians by Serbian forces during months of NATO air strikes that finally led to a Serbian military pullout and a peace treaty in June.

More than 35,000 NATO-led peacekeepers and the police force are trying to control rampant crime and instability in Kosovo, where murders, arson and looting often motivated by ethnic hatred occur daily. Some of the crime is blamed on gangs seeking to exploit the postwar disorder, but revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians on a dwindling Serbian minority also are occurring. Most of the province's 200,000 Serbs have fled.

Colonel Michael Jorsback of Sweden, the chief of staff of the UN International Police Force in Kosovo, said Tuesday that 86 policemen - 50 from Nepal and 36 from Bangladesh - were "on hold,'' and being kept out of the force's activities because they were not properly qualified.

The Nepalese, he said, arrived without handguns while 36 of the 49 sent from Bangladesh were administrative personnel who lacked the proper training for the kind of police work involved. Another 13 Bangladeshi policemen with proper experience were likely to be included in the force, he said.

Jorsback denied rumors that some were unable to drive or shoot properly and lacked command of English.

"They were all highly prepared officers, but we need street cops and they were not,'' he said, explaining they failed to meet the UN standards.

More than 470 policemen from about a dozen countries - including the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Chile, Bangladesh, Nepal and Germany - began setting up offices in Kosovo on Monday. The total force will number 3,100.

Sergeant Ray Russell of Canada said members of the UN force must be active policemen back home, not office personnel or retired. He said three requirements were that they have their own handgun, they know how to drive and speak English.

"If they don't meet the standards, they will be sent home,'' Russell said. UN headquarters in New York will decide whether the Nepalese and Bangladeshi officers will be sent home.

French Defense Minister Alain Richard, in Macedonia after a day-trip to Kosovo, was told by his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Kljusev, of increasing violence in the neighboring Serbian province.

Kljusev appealed for an effective police force for Kosovo so that, "we can again be optimistic about peace prospects.''

A rash of attacks on the peacekeepers reported Tuesday underscored the lawlessness in Kosovo. NATO officials said Russian troops serving in the peace force came under small arms fire Monday in two separate incidents near their main base at Kosovska Kamenica. A British patrol also came under small arms attack in Pristina, and unknown assailants targeted a Danish bulldozer with machine gun fire in northern Kosovo near Vucitrn.

In other violence, a Serbian man was killed and his wife seriously injured by Albanian gunmen in their apartment building in the southern city of Prizren, NATO officials said Tuesday. A Serbian woman and her 2-year-old daughter were shot in the western city of Pones.