Kosovo Serb convoy stoned, UN fires tear gas

Published on May 25, 2006, Reuters

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, May 25 (Reuters) - United Nations police in Kosovo fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of ethnic Albanians who stoned a convoy of Serbs in the west of the U.N.-run province on Thursday, police said. A Kosovo Albanian police spokesman said two U.N. personnel were lightly wounded in the incident in the ethnic Albanian village of Mala Krusa, near Prizren. "A U.N. police convoy taking Serbs there was stopped and stoned. Police fired tear gas," said spokesman Fatmir Gjurgjeala. Two U.N. vehicles were also damaged. Witnesses said the main Prizren-Djakovica road was closed and several villagers had been taken to hospital for treatment for the effects of tear gas. The stoning of Serb convoys in Kosovo is not uncommon. The province, legally part of Serbia, has been run by the United Nations since 1999, when NATO bombs drove out Serb forces accused of ethnic cleansing in a two-year war with separatist guerrillas. An estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians died and another 800,000 fled into neighbouring Macedonia and Albania. Signs of reconciliation are rare. Around half the Serb population fled a wave of revenge attacks after the war and the 100,000 who stayed live on the margins of society, targeted by sporadic violence. Mala Krusa suffered badly during the war. Ethnic Albanians say Serb police killed 100 men from the village two days into the 78-day NATO bombing campaign. After seven years of U.N.-imposed limbo, the major powers are pushing for a solution to Kosovo's final status in direct Serb-Albanian talks that began in February in Vienna. The 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority is pushing for independence, but is under pressure to improve the security and rights of Serbs. The U.N. mission says ethnically motivated crime in 2006 is down compared with previous years.

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