Balkan Strategic Studies

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February 26, 2004

Serbian Police Uncover Albanian ANA/KLA Arms Cache in Southern Serbia

Serbian police confirmed on February 25, 2004, that they had discovered a substantial arms cache in south Serbia allegedly belonging to ethnic Albanian extremist groups operating in the region, but specifically tied the weapons to the Albanian National Army (ANA), an offshoot of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UCK), which was forced to at least officially disband and transform into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) at the end of the 1999 war in the region.

Weapons in the cahce included around 100 mortars of various calibers, automatic weapons, handgrenades and large quantities of ammunition and other military equipment, all found near the village of Mali Trnovac, near the town of Bujanovac, where it had been hidden since demilitarization in 2001 of the ethnic Albanian extremist group, the Liberation army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (LAPMB). There was evidence that ANA was “planning to use the hidden arms to conduct terrorist activities” in ethnically-mixed parts of southern Serbia.

Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, which adjoins UN-administered southern Serbian province of Kosovo, lies in a region with a large Albanian population and were the scene of clashes from 2000 to 2001 between Serb forces and the rebels of the LAPMB. Republic of Serbia Interior Ministry officials have said that many of former guerilla fighters had joined ANA, which claimed that it was fighting to create a greater Albania, including Albanian-populated Kosovo and parts of Macedonia and southern Serbia.

ANA was declared a “terrorist organization” by the UN mission in Kosovo, and claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on Serbian police and army targets in 2003. It also undertook a range of guerilla attacks in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM) in 2001 and later.

The US Department of State on November 13, 2003, noted of ANA: “The Albanian National Army is a loosely organized criminal extremist group that has claimed responsibility for a handful of acts of violence in Macedonia and elsewhere in the Western Balkans in the past year. Its purported violent goals pose a threat to peace and stability in the region. This organization, however, does not have popular support, because its goals are recognizably antithetical to the true interests of the region’s ethnic Albanians.”