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Serbian authorities remove Kosovo Albanian war memorial

(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Serbian authorities removed an Albanian war memorial in the southern town of Presevo early on Sunday (January 20). More than two hundred Serbian police, backed by armoured personnel carriers, cordoned off the main square in Presevo, 350 kilometres south of Belgrade and used a front-end loader to move away the memorial with the names of 27 ethnic Albanian guerrillas who died in an insurgency there more than a decade ago. There were no incidents or protests during the police action and local officials declined to comment. The insurgents of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB) rebelled in 2000, demanding unification of this predominantly ethnic-Albanian area with Kosovo. The insurgency ended in May 2001 with a NATO-brokered peace deal which envisioned an amnesty and disarmament of the rebels. Albanians, who account to about 70 percent of the population in the area, regard UCPMB fighters as heroes, while Serbian authorities see them as terrorists. Tensions in the Presevo Valley could complicate European Union-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo, its former southern province.

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