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The BBC's Paul Anderson
"Hundreds went on the rampage hours after hearing of the killing"
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The BBC's Nicholas Wood in Mitrovica
"The Yugoslav government is asking for increased security measures"
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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 06:53 GMT
Kosovo on alert after bomb attack
Forensic team at the scene of the bombing
It was the deadliest attack in more than a year
Tension remains high in Kosovo following the killing of seven Serbs in a bomb attack on a bus on Friday.

The main route into the capital, Pristina, remained cut off overnight after rioting Serbs set two trucks alight.

The victims of the bomb explosion had been travelling in convoy to the town of Gracanica for a religious festival.

All of a sudden, everything burst, the bus seemed to have fallen apart

Gorica Stjepanovic
Hundreds of other Serbs are expected to make a similar journey this weekend, amid increased security - it is a traditional date for Serbs to visit their family graves, on the Orthodox Day of the Dead.

Ethnic Albanians have been blamed for the attack, which took place near the town of Podujevo in northern Kosovo, 40km (25 miles) northeast of Pristina.

The bus was part of a five-vehicle convoy carrying about 250 people, accompanied by five Swedish armoured vehicles which were unaffected.

Scenes of horror

It was the deadliest attack in more than a year and is likely to further undermine efforts by peacekeepers to improve relations between Serbs and ethnic Albanians after last year's rise to power of a democratic government in Belgrade.

British K-for soldier
K-for peacekeepers will have a tough job after this
Nato detained two ethnic Albanians near the scene before the remote-controlled bomb was detonated at around noon.

"All of a sudden, everything burst, the bus seemed to have fallen apart," said 24-year-old Gorica Stjepanovic from her hospital bed in Kursumlija, a Serbian town just outside Kosovo. "Blood was dripping from the roof, we were trying to see whose blood.

"Somebody's leg was hanging from the window.

"When I managed to get out, parts of bodies were everywhere."

Politicians in Belgrade condemned the bombing, in which 43 people were injured, as an act of terrorism.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica urged Serbs "not to fall into the trap of Albanian terrorists and respond with force to their crimes."

He called on Nato to prevent Kosovo from becoming a place "where fear and intimidation rule."


The US State Department also called for calm, and urged people not to seek revenge.

Ethnic Albanian rebels
Ethnic Albanian rebels on patrol in Kosovo
"Such acts of violence are clearly contrary to the interests of all the people of the region," said department spokesman Philip Reeker in a statement.

In the divided city of Mitrovica, the scene of repeated clashes between Albanians and Serbs over the last year, a demonstration is expected to be held in protest against the bombing.

It was a year ago that a similar attack on a convoy organised by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, led to a wave of revenge killings in Mitrovica in which seven Albanians died. Now the UN administration and the Nato-led peacekeeping force, K-for, are bracing themselves for further violence.

Ethnic Albanians are pushing for independence for Kosovo - which remains a province of Serbia, the main republic in Yugoslavia - after suffering repression for some 10 years under the rule of ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | Europe
Serbs die in Kosovo bus blast
16 Feb 01 | Europe
Analysis: Serbs under threat
14 Feb 01 | Europe
UN police come under attack
15 Feb 01 | Europe
Nato welcomes Serbian peace plans
29 Jan 01 | Europe
Kostunica warns of fresh fighting
16 Mar 00 | Europe
Kosovo one year on
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