Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac

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Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac
Ushtria Çlirimtare e Preshevës, Medvegjës dhe Bujanocit
LeadersMuhamet Xhemajli
Ridvan Qazimi "Lleshi" 
Dates of operation1999–2001
Active regions"Ground Safety Zone" and Preševo Valley, Serbia, FR Yugoslavia
IdeologyAlbanian nationalism
Size5,000 (1,500 active[1][2])
AlliesKosovo Liberation Army Kosovo Liberation Army
Albania Albania
OpponentsFederal Republic of Yugoslavia Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Battles and warsInsurgency in the Preševo Valley:

The Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac (Albanian: Ushtria Çlirimtare e Preshevës, Medvegjës dhe Bujanocit, UÇPMB) was an Albanian militant group fighting for separation from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for three municipalities: Preševo, Bujanovac, and Medveđa, home to most of the Albanians in south Serbia, adjacent to Kosovo.[a] Of the three municipalities, two have an ethnic Albanian majority, whilst Medveđa has a significant minority of them.

UÇPMB's uniforms, procedures and tactics mirrored those of the then freshly disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The 1,500-strong paramilitary launched the insurgency in the Preševo Valley from 1999 to 2001, with the goal of seceding these municipalities from Yugoslavia and joining them to the protectorate of Kosovo.[3]

The EU condemned what it described as the "extremism" and use of "illegal terrorist actions" by the group.[4]


After the end of the Kosovo War in 1999, a three-mile "Ground Safety Zone" (GSZ) was established between Kosovo (governed by the UN) and inner Serbia and Montenegro. Yugoslav Forces (VJ) units were not permitted there, and only the lightly armed Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs forces were left in the area.[5]

The exclusion zone included the predominantly Albanian village of Dobrosin, but not Preševo. Kosovo terrorism was exported across the borders,[3] with former KLA members quickly established bases in the demilitarized zone, and Serbian police had to stop patrolling the area to avoid being ambushed. Ethnic Albanian politicians opposed to the KLA were attacked, including Zemail Mustafi (the vice-president of the Bujanovac branch of Slobodan Milošević's Socialist Party of Serbia) who was assassinated.

Between 21 June 1999 and 12 November 2000, 294 attacks were recorded, most of them (246) in Bujanovac, 44 in Medveđa and six in Preševo. These attacks resulted in 14 people killed (of which six were civilians and eight were policemen), 37 people wounded (two UN observers, three civilians and 34 policemen) and five civilians kidnapped. In their attacks, UÇPMB used mostly assault rifles, machine guns, mortars and sniper rifles, but occasionally also RPGs, hand grenades, and anti-tank and anti-personnel mines.[6]

The UÇPMB included minors.[7]

As the situation escalated, NATO allowed the VJ to reclaim the demilitarized zone on 24 May 2001, at the same time giving the UÇPMB the opportunity to turn themselves over to the Kosovo Force (KFOR), which promised to only take their weapons and note their names before releasing them. More than 450 UÇPMB members took advantage of KFOR's "screen and release" policy, among them commander Shefket Musliu, who turned himself over to KFOR at a checkpoint along the GSZ just after midnight of 26 May 2001.[citation needed]


The former KLA next moved to western Macedonia where they established the National Liberation Army, which fought against the Macedonian government in 2001.[3]

Ali Ahmeti organized the NLA of former KLA fighters from Kosovo and Macedonia, Albanian insurgents from Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac in Serbia, young Albanian radicals and nationalists from Macedonia, and foreign mercenaries.[8]

Notable people[edit]

  • Muhamet Xhemajli, highest commander,  Surrendered
  • Ridvan Qazimi Lleshi, second commander,  
  • Shefket Musliu, commander,  Surrendered[9]
  • Pacir Shicri, spokesman,  Surrendered[10]
  • Tahir Dalipi, spokesman,
  • Yonuzu Musliu,  Surrendered
  • Mustafa Shaqiri,  Surrendered
  • Nagip Ali,  Surrendered
  • Orhan Rexhepi,  Surrendered
  • Lirim Jukupi,
  • Arben Ramadani,  


  1. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently (this note self-updates) recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.


  1. ^ Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor. Jane's Information Group. 2005. p. 51.
  2. ^ Nigel Thomas, K. Mikulan, Darko Pavlović, The Yugoslav Wars, p. 51
  3. ^ a b c Rafael Reuveny; William R. Thompson (5 November 2010). Coping with Terrorism: Origins, Escalation, Counterstrategies, and Responses. SUNY Press. pp. 185–. ISBN 978-1-4384-3313-4.
  4. ^ European Centre for Minority Issues Staf (1 January 2003). European Yearbook of Minority Issues: 2001/2. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 652–. ISBN 90-411-1956-6.
  5. ^ "A calm Kosovo moves towards a tense future". Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  6. ^ Krstic, Ninoslav; Dragan Zivkovic. "Извођење операције решавања кризе на југу Србије изазване деловањем наоружаних албанских екстремиста (терориста)". Vojno delo. p. 180. ISSN 0042-8426.
  7. ^ "Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Federal Republic of Yugoslavia". Child Soldiers International. 2001. The UCPMB is an Albanian armed group operating in southern Serbia whose operations are reportedly controlled by the Political Council for Presovo. They are calling for the incorporation of the cities of Preshava, Medvegia and Bujanovci into Kosovo. Estimates of numbers vary between 200 and 15,000.
    The Guardian newspaper reported in January 2001 that some sixty suspected members of the UCPMB guerrilla had been arrested by peacekeepers. UCPMB recruits include children in their mid teens to men in their forties ... Further confirmation of the participation of child soldiers came when KFOR detained 16 juveniles (aged 15-17) in the first two months of 2001 for alleged involvement in the conflict (although the degree of "involvement" is not clear). The international media claim that there is forced recruitment of juveniles into this group but this is not verified and numbers are small ... A 15-year-old Albanian male was reported shot dead on 23 March 2001 in the Ground Safety Zone near Gnjilane. Although no confirmations have been received, the circumstances suggest he may have been a child soldier.
    UNICEF, 9/3/01 op. cit.Information (provided by [a] confidential source that requests confidentiality, 3/01)
  8. ^ Pål Kolstø (2009). Media Discourse and the Yugoslav Conflicts: Representations of Self and Other. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 173. ISBN 9780754676294.
  9. ^ "Rebel Albanian chief surrenders". BBC News. 26 May 2001.
  10. ^ "British K-For troops under fire". BBC News. 25 January 2001.

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