Serb Leader: Kosovo Serbs Live in Fear

Published on August 14, 2006, AP

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

Serbia's president said Sunday that Serbs in Kosovo live in fear, despite promises from U.N. authorities and ethnic Albanian leaders to protect their rights as a minority in the troubled province.

President Boris Tadic issued a statement to mark the third anniversary of an attack on Serb teenagers in Kosovo, when gunmen killed two and wounded four while the teens were swimming in a river in the western village of Gorazdevac.

"Serbs live in constant fear for their lives and the lives of their families," Tadic said. "The international community must find the perpetrators of this crime and provide security for all."

He accused international officials in Kosovo and the local authorities of "doing nothing to solve the murder of the children."

Kosovo, with a population of 2 million, is a province of Serbia, but it has been an international protectorate since 1999. The majority ethnic Albanians want independence from Serbia, but Belgrade opposes it. Kosovo's final status will be decided by ongoing U.N.-brokered talks, which began earlier this year.

The Serbs in Kosovo - about 100,000 of them remained after Serbia lost control of the province after the 1999 U.S.-led NATO bombing - live in isolated enclaves, without freedom of movement and fearing attacks from extremist ethnic Albanians.

Ethnic Albanian leaders recently sought to dispel Serb fears and promise them more rights, but have been unable to curb attacks by extremists who want to drive the remaining Serbs from Kosovo and who seek revenge for the brutal Serb attacks during the 1998-99 Kosovo War.

Tadic urged ethnic Albanian leaders to "do something against extremists and criminals in their ranks."

There was no immediate comment from Kosovo's leaders.

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