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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 March, 2004, 16:14 GMT
Security tight for Kosovo burials
Woman weeps over coffins of two young Albanian boys at funeral in Cabra, Kosovo
Security was tight for the funerals
The funerals of two ethnic Albanian boys in Kosovo whose deaths sparked a wave of violent clashes have passed off peacefully, officials say.

The funerals took place amid tight security, with Nato-led troops operating checkpoints outside Cabra village where the burials took place.

Kosovo's prime minister attended the ceremony and praised mourners' dignity.

Serbia is meanwhile holding a day of mourning for the 28 victims of the recent violence.

Appeal for calm

Flags flew at half mast and bells tolled in the Serbian capital, Belgrade while the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, appealed for calm.

"Let us pray that, for our children and the children of tomorrow, there will be more peace, freedom and blessings than there have been in the difficult times we now endure," he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

A French soldier serving in Nato-led K-For
24 Sept 1998: Nato issues ultimatum to Milosevic to stop crackdown on Kosovo Albanians
24 Mar 1999: Nato begins air strikes against Yugoslavia over Kosovo
10 June 1999: Air strikes suspended after Milosevic agrees to withdraw troops. UN approves peace plan for Kosovo, establishes K-for peace force
11 June 1999: Nato troops enter Kosovo
10 Dec 2003: UN unveils road map on conditions Kosovo must meet by mid-2005 for talks on final status
17 Mar 2004: Serbs and Albanians clash in the worst violence seen since 1999

Kosovo plans a separate day of mourning on Monday.

Thousands of Serbs were driven from their homes in clashes last week between ethnic Albanians and Serbs.

Fighting broke out after three Albanian boys drowned near the town of Mitrovica last on Tuesday.

The body of one of them is still missing.

Another boy who says he witnessed the incident has alleged that they jumped into the river to escape a dog set on them by two Serbs from a neighbouring village.

However, there has been no independent confirmation of this, and the UN police are still investigating.

The situation in Kosovo has reportedly calmed down over the weekend, but there is still considerable tension.

Last week saw the worst violence since Nato forces entered Kosovo in 1999 to end years of ethnic unrest.

'Special zone'

The BBC's Nick Thorpe says thousands of people converged on the village of Cabra - near the flashpoint town of Mitrovica - for the funerals on Sunday.

Serbian church being burned in Mitrovica
Albanian mobs set fire to Serbian churches
Mourners wept as the boys' schoolmates carried photographs of the children and banners reading "No more deaths", "No more violence" and "Peace for everybody".

"Serbs killed our boy. But we will leave it up to the law and the local authorities to take care of it for now," Sali Deliu, uncle of one of the boys, told French news agency AFP.

"We will not take revenge. We are sorry for all those who have been killed because of our children."

Kosovo's prime minister was among who attended the funerals.

"Your dignified stand makes us proud and we share your pride," Bajram Rexhepi was quoted as telling mourners.

"You have set an example for all Kosovars of how to show dignity at a difficult time."

General Xavier Michael, commanding the K-For north-eastern brigade, said a special zone had been established to prevent contact between the two sides.

About 2,000 Nato reinforcements are being deployed to Kosovo, to join 18,500 K-For troops already there.

'Conciliatory gesture'

The Albanian authorities are setting up a special fund to rebuild Serb homes and churches damaged in the violence, which left hundreds of people injured.

At least 15 Orthodox churches and more than 100 homes in Serb enclaves were damaged or destroyed by Albanian rioters.

About 1,100 Serbs and non-Albanians are being sheltered in camps run by the Nato peacekeeping force, K-For, while others have gone to Serb areas.

Serbia has sent truckloads of aid to their fellow Serbs in Kosovo.

The top UN official in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, said on Saturday he believed extremists were behind much of last week's violence.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"This was not the mass demonstration some had feared"

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