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Yugoslavia: KFOR Peacekeepers Clash With Kosovo Albanians

Mitrovica, Kosovo; 31 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers clashed with crowds of Kosovo Albanians yesterday in the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica. Reports say about 2,000 protesters gathered to demonstrate at the death of a 15-year-old Albanian boy on Monday, which they blame on Serbs in the town, and which sparked further clashes, leaving a total of two dead and several wounded. It also prompted KFOR to impose an overnight curfew in the tense divided town.

The ethnic Albanian crowd tried to storm a bridge leading to the Serb-dominated northern part of the town when KFOR troops fired tear gas and stun grenades to hold back the crowd. A few hundred Serbs gathered on the other side of the bridge, jeering at the ethnic Albanians. The ethnic Albanian crowd later surrounded the headquarters of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), forcing the workers inside to stay the night.

Reports say more than 40 people were injured in the clashes. In addition, the Beta news agency says five KFOR and UN police vehicles were set on fire.