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news 08 Apr 12

Kosovo Serbs Worried by Recent Flare-ups

Kosovo Serb parties and a senior cleric have expressed concern that widespread ethnic violence could return following a series of Serb-Albanian incidents.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade

The Serbian Independent Liberal Party, which is part of the Kosovo government, has expressed concern about the spate of recent incidents between Serbs and Albanians.

Father Sava Janjic, a monk from Visoki Decani monastery, in the west of Kosovo, also expressed concern over growing tension in the former Serbian province which declared independence in 2008.

"The open hatred that is being manifested by some radical Albanians shows that we have not moved much forward since 2004," Janjic said, referring to the widespread violence seen in March that year.

A series of Serb-Albanian incidents occurred in the past days, the first in Kosovo since it declared independence.

On Wednesday, two cars carrying members of a Serbian government delegation were stoned in Pristina close to the headquarters of the EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX.

Meanwhile dozens of Kosovo Albanians and Serbs became involved in a fight in the Serbian enclave of Gracanica after a bus full of Pristina Football Club fans returned from a match in Gjilan.

In other incidents, shots were fired at a Serbian Orthodox church in the village of Pecane near Recane and graffiti daubed on the walls of the monastery of Visoki Decani, reading "KLA property".

This referred to the Kosovo Liberation Army, the insurgent force that took on the Serbian authorities in the 1990s. The wall of a church in Strpce also had KLA graffiti daubed on it.

Kosovo last saw major unrest on March 17, 2004, when ethnic Albanians attacked Serb enclaves resulting in the deaths of 11 Albanians and eight Serbs. Some 730 houses belonging to Kosovo Serbs, as well as 35 Orthodox churches, monasteries and other religious monuments were damaged.

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