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NATO Asks Kosovo Albanian Leaders To Help Stop Violence

Pristina, 19 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- NATO called upon Kosovar Albanian leaders to take effective measures to end ethnic claches in which at least 31 people were killed and about 500 wounded in the province over the past three days.

The alliance is sending about 2,000 more troops to reinforce the some 18,500-strong KFOR contingent already deployed in Kosovo in an effort to clamp down on unrest there.

German Defense Minister Peter Struck said in Berlin that the increased military presence will help to end violence in Kosovo. "I hope that the increased presence of German troops, which were sent following a formal request from the German commander of KFOR, will calm the situation," he said. "We know after the recent events that ethnic clashes between Albanians and Serbs can not be resolved as easily as we hoped a couple of months ago."

Thousands of people marched across Serbia today to show support for Kosovo Serbs following the ethnic fighting. In Belgrade, the protest was led by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Riot police prevented hundreds of students from reaching the Albanian Embassy in the Serbian capital.

In the Albanian capital Tirana, hundreds of Kosovar Albanian students demonstrated demanding independence for the province.

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