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news 05 Apr 12

Serbia Protests Over Kosovo Incidents

Belgrade has protested to the international community over attacks this week by Albanians on Serbs in Kosovo.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic has sent "a strong protest" to the heads of international missions in Kosovo and the EU following a series of Serb-Albanian incidents on Wednesday, the first in Kosovo since it declared independence in February 2008.

Two cars carrying members of a Serbian government delegation were attacked with stones in Pristina close to the headquarters of the EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX. Minor injuries were sustained by one government official.

According to the statement by the Serbian government, "a group of hooligans" staged the incident while the delegation was in Serbia's former province "tasked with implementing agreements reached during the technical dialogue with the authorities in Pristina.

"This is yet another attempt by extremists to intimidate the Serb population in the southern province, to prevent dialogue and the implementation of agreements and a peaceful solution to problems," Cvetkovic said in a statement.

Kosovo police said they detained two persons in connection with the incident, and had freed one after taking statements. The police said that nobody was hurt in the attack.

In a separate incident, shots were fired at a Serbian Orthodox church in the village of Pecane near Recane.

Kosovo Serbia KiM Radio reported another incident at the medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery of Visoki Decani, on whose walls were written the message, "KLA property".

[This referred to the Kosovo Liberation Army, the insurgent force that took on the Serbian authorities in the 1990s.]

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.

The mayor of Gracanica, Bojan Stojanovic, and an eyewitness told Balkan Insight that the fight started when the bus transporting the Pristina fans stopped in downtown Gracanica, waiting in a traffic queue.

Kosovo last saw major unrest on March 17, 2004, when ethnic Albanians attacked Serb enclaves in what became the worst inter-ethnic violence since the 1999 war.

The riots resulted in the deaths of 11 Albanians and eight Serbs, and over 1,000 people from both communities were injured. Some 730 houses belonging to Kosovo Serbs, as well as 35 Orthodox churches, monasteries and other religious monuments were damaged.


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