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Kosovo: Thousands Of Serbs Demonstrate In Mitrovica

Mitrovica, 25 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - Some 3,000 Serbs gathered in Mitrovica today to show their will to remain in the ethnically divided Kosovo city. The self-proclaimed mayor of the Serb-populated northern part of Mitrovica, Oliver Ivanovic, says the protest is intended to give Serbs a chance to "show their determination to remain in the region." The head of a local Serbian governing body, Vuko Antonjevic, called on demonstrators to be peaceful and not to attack their ethnic-Albanian neighbors.

Some 2,000 Albanian residents have fled the northern half of the city in recent weeks following a rise in tension, leaving only some 500 in the area.

The head of the UN civil administration in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, said today at least 2,500 police are needed in the province to help quell an upsurge in violence.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson says the immediate crisis in the Kosovo city of Mitrovica is over.

Speaking in Brussels after a meeting of NATO's North Atlantic Council, Robertson said the situation in the divided city is calm. He said ethnic tension flared up but NATO dealt with the unrest "quickly and decisively."

Robertson led a special meeting of the council, NATO's governing body, to consider a request by the alliance's supreme commander in Europe for up to 2,000 more troops.