Battle of Belaćevac Mine

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Battle of Belaćevac Mine
Part of the Kosovo War
Date 23 June 1998 – 30 June 1998
Location Belaćevac, near Obilić, Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Result Decisive Yugoslav Army (VJ) and Serbian police victory[1]
Belligerents
UCK KLA.png Kosovo Liberation Army Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Commanders and leaders
UCK KLA.png Bekim Berisha Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Svetozar Marjanović
Strength
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
UCK KLA.png 3 killed
UCK KLA.png 7 wounded[2]
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Unknown
25 Serbian civilians killed,[3] including 9 mineworkers executed by the KLA[4]
4 Kosovo Albanian civilians killed[5][6] and 8,000 Kosovo Albanians made refugees[7]

The Battle of Belaćevac Mine (Serbian: Сукоб код рудника Белаћевац; Albanian: Beteja e Bardhit të Madh) was a 1998 battle that was fought during the Kosovo War between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Yugoslav Army (VJ) over the control of a coal mine which powered the nearby generating station which supplied electricity to most of Kosovo.[8]

KLA capture[edit]

On 23 June, Albanian militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army seized the mine from the Yugoslavs, capturing nine mineworkers: Dušan Ađančić, Pero Ađančić, Zoran Ađančić, Mirko Buha, Filip Gojković, Božidar Lempić, Srboljub Savić, Mirko Trifunović and Dragan Vukmirović.[9] While one worker, Nebojša Janković, claimed the prisoners had been executed, there was no independent verification.[4] Among the insurgents were Mensur Kasumi, who was later appointed the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs within Kosovo, Arif "Mujo" Krasniqi, who was involved in the capture of Jarko Spasić on 14 May, and Azem Koskoviku, who commanded a group of heavily armed KLA militants. The KLA then proceeded to use the mine as a staging area for its operations,[9] and taunted the Yugoslavs by sending daylight patrols within sight of the nearby villages.[8]

Yugoslav re-capture[edit]

On the morning of 30 June, the Yugoslav Army (VJ) launched an offensive into the area of Kosovo where the mines were located, and while some militants withdrew, those remaining in the mining buildings opened fire on the local police at around 14:00 in the afternoon.[10] Yugoslav police forces, with the help of more than 150 military vehicles including helicopters, tanks and artillery,[8] regained control of the Belaćevac Mine, as most of the Albanian militants had fled after encountering heavy tank-fire.[11] The region was largely abandoned by both Albanian and Serbian civilians following the re-capture of the mines.[12][13][14]

Aftermath[edit]

In June 1999, after the Kumanovo Agreement was signed, the Yugoslavs withdrew from the mine, leading to its immediate re-capture by the Albanians.[15]

Eleven years after the battle, the Association of the Families of Kidnapped and Missing Miners of Belaćevac set up a demonstration in the region demanding answers about the fate of the workers captured in the KLA's initial capture of the mine.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Serb forces retake Kosovo Mine". Associated Press. 30 June 1998. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Serbia Claims Success in Belaćevac Offensive". Radio Free Europe. 30 June 1998. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Sutra počinje ekshumacija masovne grobnice Belaćevac". Blic Online. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Walker, Tom. The Times, "Guerrillas in Kosovo 'killed mine hostages', July 2, 1998
  5. ^ "Fierce Fighting as Serbs Try to Push Rebels From Kosovo Town". New York Times. 1 July 1998. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "New Serb offensive in Kosovo". BBC. 30 June 1999. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Chris Hedges (30 June 1998). "Serbians Unleash Series of Heavy Attacks Against Albanian Separatists". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c The Independent New offensive dashes ceasefire hope, June 30, 1998
  9. ^ a b Human Rights Watch, "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo",1998. p. 81.
  10. ^ Hellenic Resources Network, Yugoslav Daily Survey, June 30, 1998
  11. ^ Radio Free Europe, Serbia claims success in Belacevac offensive, June 30, 1998
  12. ^ National Public Radio, All Things Considered: Kosovo, July 1, 1998
  13. ^ "Serbs re-take Kosovo mine". BBC. 1 July 1998. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Serbian Forces Retake Mine Held by Rebels". New York Times. 2 July 1998. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Hughes, Candice. Associated Press, "KLA captures Mine, Hostages near Pristina", June 13, 1998
  16. ^ Radio Srbija, A gathering in Gracanica in memory of Serbs kidnapped in Kosmet 11 years ago, June 22, 2009