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
Participant in Insurgency in the Preševo Valley
UCPMB logo.svg
Active 1999–2001
Area of operations "Ground Safety Zone" and Preševo Valley, Serbia, FR Yugoslavia
Strength 5,000 (1,500 active[1][2])
Part of Kosovo Liberation Army
Originated as Kosovo Liberation Army
Became National Liberation Army
Opponents Republic of Serbia

The Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac (Albanian: Ushtria Çlirimtare e Preshevës, Medvegjës dhe Bujanocit, UÇPMB) was an Albanian separatist militant insurgent group fighting for independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for the three municipalities: Preševo, Bujanovac, and Medveđa, home to most of the Albanians in south Serbia, adjacent to Kosovo.

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 United Nations) and inner Serbia and Montenegro. Military of Serbia and Montenegro (VJ) units were not permitted there, and only the lightly armed Serb 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. Attacks were also made on ethnic Albanian politicians opposed to the KLA, including the assassination of Zemail Mustafi, the Albanian vice-president of the Bujanovac branch of Slobodan Milošević's Socialist Party of Serbia. Between June 21, 1999 and November 12, 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] That the situation was getting out of control, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allowed the VJ to reclaim the demilitarized zone on May 24, 2001, at the same time giving the UÇPMB the opportunity to turn themselves over to Kosovo Force (KFOR), which promised to just 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 Shefket Musliu, the commander of the UÇPMB, who turned himself over to KFOR at a checkpoint along the GSZ just after midnight of May 26, 2001.


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

  • 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. Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor. Jane's Information Group. 2005. p. 51.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Nigel Thomas, K. Mikulan, Darko Pavlović, The Yugoslav Wars, p. 51
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "CER | A calm Kosovo moves towards a tense future". Retrieved 2012-11-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.2166 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.2167 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.2168.^UNICEF, 9/3/01 op. cit.Information provided by confidential source that requests confidentiality,3/01)
    <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Pål Kolstø (2009). Media Discourse and the Yugoslav Conflicts: Representations of Self and Other. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 173. ISBN 9780754676294.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Rebel Albanian chief surrenders". BBC News. May 26, 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "British K-For troops under fire". BBC News. January 25, 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links