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Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK

World: Europe

Serbs 'killed in revenge attack'

A Serb home in Prizren burns in a revenge attack

By the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Prizren

Two elderly Serb civilians have been attacked and killed in their homes in the Kosovo town of Prizren, in what appear to have been revenge attacks by Kosovo Albanians.

Kosovo: Special Report
The pair - a man and a woman - were attacked in their homes near the town centre, apparently by ethnic Albanian civilians armed with an axe.

Both bodies had been badly mutilated by the time German K-For troops arrived on the scene. One eyewitness said the woman had been virtually decapitated.

The motive appears to be revenge for what happened to ethnic Albanians at the hands of the Serbs during the conflict in Kosovo.

Now, some 50 Serbs - most of them elderly - have gone into hiding in a church, under armed guard from K-For troops.

Outside the atmosphere is tense. Armed German troops keep guard on the door. Not far away, uniformed KLA soldiers watch back.

Minutes to leave

The Serbs say they were badly beaten in their homes, before being given just minutes to leave.

They sit huddled together in fear for their lives. One woman whose husband was killed in their home yesterday cries quietly in the corner, too upset to speak.

Despite several deep gashes to his head, 70-year-old Janku Jankovic was luckier.

"When they beat me, they asked me why don't I speak Albanian. It's just that I cannot speak - I don't know that language," he said.

Although Mr Jankovic does not want to leave Prizren he feels he now has no choice.

Most elderly Serbs feel the same, and many say they always got on well with her ethnic Albanian neighbours until this week.

In hiding

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is deeply concerned for the safety of those Serbs who have chosen to remain.

Some have barricaded themselves into their homes, too scared to go out despite the presence of K-For troops on the streets.

UNHCR officials say that while the Serbs in the church may be safe, those who have barricaded themselves in probably are not.

Also in hiding are several ethnic Albanians and some gypsies, who are believed to have collaborated with the Serb forces.

During his visit to the Balkans, US President Bill Clinton added to the chorus of appeals to Kosovo's ethnic Albanians not to take revenge on the Serbs when they get home. But many of the Albanians are in no mood to listen to that message.

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