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Yugoslavs arrest 4 foreigners

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BELGRADE — The Yugoslav army said Thursday it had arrested two Britons and two Canadians in Montenegro with military equipment and explosives, saying they appeared to be trained in sabotage.

It said a patrol arrested them Tuesday night along the boundary with Kosovo but not near a crossing point.

"Yugoslav Army personnel mounted an efficient action and arrested four armed foreign citizens with military equipment, demolition equipment, etc.," it said.

It named the Britons as Adrian Michael Prandnel and John Connon Bradley Yore and identified the Canadians as Shuan Gerald Going and Liam Patrick Hall.

A press officer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kosovo, Laura O'Mahoney, said she could confirm that the Britons named by the army were two missing OSCE personnel who worked for a police training school in Kosovo.

She said they had been on holiday in Montenegro.

"They were on vacation. (They were) not on duty," she said.

She stressed the police instructors were not armed and did not carry out regular police duties in Kosovo, only training.

"They do not carry weapons," she added.

The arrests come amid a sharpening of tensions in Yugoslavia ahead of September polls and hot on the heels of an announcement by Yugoslav officials that four Dutchmen had been arrested in a nearby area of Serbia.

The army said the detainees may have been training police in the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, whose pro-Western leaders are increasingly at odds with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's government in Belgrade.

"There are indications the foreign citizens arrested trained special units of the Interior Ministry in the Republic of Montenegro and are specialists in demolition and performing terrorist actions," said an army statement, faxed to Reuters.

It said one of the detainees was a member of the Kosovo Protection Corps, referring to the civilian unit mainly made up of former members of the now-disbanded separatist ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army.

Kosovo has been a de facto international protectorate since last June, when Serb forces withdrew from the shattered mainly ethnic Albanian province after 78 days of NATO air strikes.

Montenegro's leaders have declared an open visa policy as part of moves to assert their autonomy from the Yugoslav government in Belgrade, which has restricted visas to Westerners tightly since the air strikes.

Western leaders are worried Milosevic may try to crack down on the smaller Yugoslav republic in the run-up to elections on Sept. 24, which Montenegrin leaders say they will boycott, believing them to be unfair.

Thursday, Montena-Fax said Yugoslav army units had set up a "duty post" at a point near the border with Croatia, which many Western officials use to enter the republic.

They were not stopping people, it said, noting that a checkpoint in the same place set up during the air strikes had blocked traffic coming into and out of Montenegro.

Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic Monday accused Britain's SAS of training Montenegrin police for possible future clashes with Yugoslav army units based in the republic, whose leaders have threatened to hold a referendum on independence.

A British diplomat in Belgrade said earlier Thursday the Yugoslav authorities had not informed them of any arrests.

"We have a bilateral agreement with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that requires them to inform us if a British national is arrested and they haven't done so," he said.

Dutch officials have sought access to its nationals since Matic announced Monday they had been arrested at least 10 days earlier. Wednesday they said they may get to see them.

The men were shown on a video film at a news conference. One of them said they were "weekend warriors" who had come to Yugoslavia to kidnap people indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal and hand them over to the court in The Hague.