Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)
Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves (UÇK)
Frustrated by the failure of peaceful resistance
to Serb repression, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was formed
in 1998 and began clashing with Serb police. Thousands of young
men and women, led by Hashim Thaci, took up arms to liberate Kosovo.
But the Yugoslav army forces began a brutal counterinsurgency campaign,
resulting in thousands of civilian casualties. The KLA also committed
atrocities during the war and is now being investigated for war
crimes. More recently, they have been blamed for violence against
Serb and Roma minorities.
It is a normal reaction to protect ourselves.
War criminals have not been captured. My brother has been mutilated,
and my father, brother and I were wounded. Eleven of my relatives
were killed. When I see a criminal walking free, the only thing
on my mind is revenge. It is something you just cant resist,
said Afet Bilalli, a former KLA Commander.
Some people say that the KLA did some
bad things. Those I met, I assure you, did only good things. KLA
fights against the dictatorship of Milosevic, said Dr. Besim
Hoxha, a surgeon who worked in a mobile combat KLA field hospital.
Working in a cave without electricity or anesthesia, Dr. Hoxha performed
surgeries with only a fork and knife. For 43 days he worked under
siege by Serb forces.
I have forgiveness for those who seek
mercy. Maybe it will be enough. We will accept their apology. If
that doesnt happen, we will not forgive Serbs. They killed
children and they never said they were sorry for that, said
There were Albanians that served in Serb
paramilitariesthey committed crimes. They are from our neighborhood.
I know their names. A criminal is a criminal and needs to be punished,
Under the peace agreement, the KLA agreed to
demilitarize and transform into the Kosovo Protection Corps, an
emergency rescue brigade. Thaci now heads a powerful political party,
the Democratic Party of Kosovo, currently in charge of many municipal
institutions and a strong contender in municipal elections scheduled
for October 2000.