Two explosions hit Kosovo, ethnic clashes remain

"Now, NATO and EULEX have taken the situation under control," said a Kosovo police spokesman.

Two explosions hit Kosovo, ethnic clashes remain

Two separate explosion hit the Serb and Albanian parts of the ethnically divided town of Kosovska-Mitrovica injuring six firefighters and damaging cars and property on Saturday.

Police on Saturday said the first explosion destroyed seven cars near a cafe bar in the Serb dominated part of Mitrovica. Angry Serbs then set two Albanian shops alight and as fire fighters rushed to put out the blazes a second explosive device detonated.

"Three firemen and three other people were brought to hospital for treatment. Their condition is stable," said Marko Jaksic, the Serb director of Mitrovica hospital.

Police gave no details as to the cause of the explosions, the second of which occurred in Bosnjacka Mahala, an isolated mainly ethnic Albanian community that sits on the Serb side of the divided city of Mitrovica.

The second explosion occurred after Serb youths set two Albanian shops on fire, as firefighters rushed to the scene a bomb was thrown injuring at least six firefighters.

NATO troops and the European Union police (EULEX) stepped up their presence and armoured vehicles were patrolling the area.

"Now, NATO and EULEX have taken the situation under control," said Besim Hoti, a Kosovo police spokesman in Mitrovica.

Ethnic tensions in Mitrovica remain high after a Serb teenager was hurt by two knife-wielding Albanian teenagers on Dec. 30 which prompted hundreds of Serb protestors to burn down several Albanian shops and to damage cars with Kosovo licence plates. The two Albanians assailants were arrested.

Mitrovica has been a flashpoint between the Albanian majority and Serb minority since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February. Some 20,000 Serbs live in north Mitrovica but they refuse to deal with Kosovo institutions and see Serbia's Belgrade as their capital.

The Serb minority in Kosovo of about 120,000 among 2 million Albanians rejects Kosovo's secession from Serbia, which occurred nine years after a NATO bombing campaign against a rump Yugoslavia halted the killing and expulsion of civilians from the region.

Reuters
Last Mod: 03 Ocak 2009, 23:47
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