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Yugoslavia: Serbs Attack Police Station In Kosovo


Mitrovica, Yugoslavia; 14 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The UN says a crowd of Serbs in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica attacked a police station this morning. Dmitry Karportsev, spokesman for the United Nations police in Kosovo, called the gathering a riot and said the Serbs are behaving very aggressively. Karportsev said two people -- a UN police officer and a soldier with the peacekeeping force -- were injured and one police car was burning.

He said the riot, involving about 150 people, broke out after police detained two suspects in the Serb-dominated northern part of the city. The two were suspected of assaulting two UN police officers in Mitrovica, a regular flash point.

Yugoslav army troops entered a buffer zone near Serbia's boundary with Kosovo today.

The deployment comes two days after Serbia agreed to a cease-fire with ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

Columns of trucks and armored vehicles carried members of an elite parachute brigade into the southernmost tip of the zone, which was set up in 1999 to separate Yugoslav forces from the NATO-led peacekeeping troops that replaced them in Kosovo.

NATO and European Union observers traveled with the troops. The deployment is intended to help stop cross-border violence that threatens to expand into a new Balkan war.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic announced the move late last night. He appealed to residents of the area to stay calm and not to obstruct the return of the forces.

Covic said the return of the troops will be monitored by European Union observers. He said the forces will not go into ethnic Albanian towns and villages.

Covic said he expected ethnic Albanian rebels to honor Monday's (12 March) cease-fire agreement and not try to provoke the Yugoslav forces.

The five-kilometer buffer zone was set up in June 1999 to put distance between NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo and the Yugoslav army. NATO agreed to allow Yugoslav forces into the southernmost part of the zone to help cut off ethnic Albanian rebels in southern Serbia from those operating in northern Macedonia.

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