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Who's who in the Balkans

Southern Serbia: The black-uniformed Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac is active in the three-mile-wide buffer zone adjoining the Serbian province of Kosovo. Because only lightly armed Serb police were allowed in the zone under NATO rules, the ethnic Albanian rebels had operated with relative impunity. The guerrillas want to join with Kosovo ahead of possible independence for the province. On Wednesday heavier-armed Serbian units moved into the southernmost tip of the zone under a NATO deal aimed at curbing the rebel threat. A cease-fire is in effect. Talks between Serbia and ethnic Albanian leaders are set for next week.

Macedonia: Calling themselves the National Liberation Army, black-uniformed fighters have been clashing with Macedonian border troops since mid-February in a strip of land abutting Kosovo. As in the buffer zone, the fighters say they are struggling for greater rights for Macedonia's ethnic Albanians, which make up about a quarter of the country's 2-million people. But there are fears that the goal is again to link predominantly ethnic Albanian border areas to Kosovo as part of an overall independence plan.

Kosovo: The Serbian province itself has been spared major fighting since NATO and the United Nations established control in mid-1999. But ethnic violence is common, both the southern Serbian and Macedonian rebels are supplied from Kosovo. Seeking to cut that link, NATO moved U.S. and other peacekeepers close to the border with Macedonia early this month.

_ ASSOCIATED PRESS

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