Hope on the Balkans Kosov@ Crisis 1999
Unrest in Kosovska Mitrovica
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Friday - Kosovska Mitrovica is in a state of tension after violence in the town overnight, a spokesman for the local Serb National Council, Nikola Kabasic, said today. Kabasic told media that the town erupted in violence after several thousand Serbs took to the streets. International organisations in the province were one of the targets, with several KFOR and UN vehicles set on fire.
A French KFOR spokesman said today that the night of bloodshed began when an attacker threw a bomb into a Serbian cafe and three Albanians were killed in a separate incident at about the same time. After the attack on the cafe, Serbs gathered in the northern part of the town where they clashed with Albanians. Fifteen Serbs and six Albanians were injured. UNMIK representative Beatrice Lacoste said that two Turks and two Albanians had died during the night.
KFOR used mace early this morning to disperse a crowd of Albanians throwing rocks at peace forces stationed on the bridge between the Albanian and Serb zones of the town. Demonstrators on the bridge accused KFOR of failing to protect the minority Albanian community in the northern, Serb zone of the town.
Twelve people were treated in the Kosovska Mitrovica hospital following the conflict. A hospital spokesman said today that seven people were in critical condition following surgery.
The UN regional administrator for Northern Kosovo, Mario Morcone and KFOR command today proclaimed a curfew on Kosovska Mitrovica streets from 8.00 pm until 5.00 am. The curfew will begin tonight.
The latest ethnic violence in Kosovo demonstrates it is too early for the safe return of the non-Albanian population to the province, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said today. He added that the events of last night had also shown that international forces were not able to give 24 -hour protection to all minorities. Redmond told a press conference in Geneva that it was up to the leaders of ethnic communities to stop the violence between Albanians and Serbs.
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