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Three policemen killed in explosion in southern Serbia

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February 19, 2001 


LUCANE, Yugoslavia--(AP) - Three Serb policemen were killed Sunday in an explosion believed to have been caused by two anti-tank mines on a dirt road, a police officer said.

The blast which destroyed the vehicle they were driving in occurred around 9:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) near the village of Lucane in a five-kilometer (three-mile) buffer zone bordering Kosovo. Lucane is located some 270 kilometers (170 miles) southeast of Belgrade.

Infiltrating the buffer zone, ethnic Albanian rebels have been attacking Serb police and the Yugoslav army. Only lightly armed police are allowed to enter the zone.

A police officer who took reporters to the scene said the explosion was likely caused by two anti-tank mines planted on the road. It left a crater one meter (three feet) deep and almost three meters (10 feet) wide.

He said the three policemen were transporting food to a police checkpoint.

In Lucane, Serb police and ethnic Albanian militants are only separated by a river. Most local people have fled, leaving the village of about 500 houses virtually deserted. The Serb policemen are entrenched on the northwest side of the river.

There has been sporadic fighting in the region recently. The ground along the banks of the river is said to have been mined both by the rebels and by police.

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