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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Arms cache found in divided Kosovo city
View over the bridge in Mitrovica near where the weapons were found
This bridge divides Serbs from Albanians in Mitrovica
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By Nicholas Wood
in Pristina
line

United Nations peacekeeping troops in Kosovo have seized a cache of arms in the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica.

French soldiers serving with the Nato-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo (K-For) say they found the weapons in a garage near the bridge that divides the Serb-dominated north of Mitrovica from the Albanian-inhabited south.

Ten rifles, more than a dozen grenades, explosive detonators and 2,000 rounds of ammunition were uncovered.

Demonstration in Mitrovica
Serbs protest against the return of expelled Albanians

Weapons searches are nothing out of the ordinary in Kosovo, but it has been some time since K-For soldiers uncovered such a large amount in this area.

The discovery follows a clash last month in which 26 police officers serving with the UN in Kosovo were injured in skirmishes with groups of armed men.

One police officer had his leg amputated after he was injured by a grenade.

Since then the UN has been under renewed pressure to assert its authority in the region.

UN undermined

It was only this week that police began to resume ordinary patrols in the north of the city.

However, Serbian opposition to the UN presence in Mitrovica was given a boost by the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, Nebojsa Covic, who supported calls for a separate city council in the north of the city.

Furthermore, he suggested that the province be divided into separate entities, as in Bosnia, and ordered to give Serbs a separate government from their Albanian counterparts.

All this appears to undermine the UN's efforts to bring Kosovo's divided communities together, and has raised fears among Albanians that Serbia may be seeking to split Kosovo apart.

See also:

09 Apr 02 | Europe
UN condemns Kosovo attacks
09 Apr 02 | Europe
Polish PM to visit Kosovo wounded
08 Apr 02 | Europe
UN Kosovo police attacked
04 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Mitrovica: K-For's hardest test
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