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Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK


World: Europe

Serb teenagers killed in mortar attack

Kosovo Albanians are still attacking Serb properties

Two teenagers have been killed after a mainly Serb village came under mortar attack in one of the worst incidents of ethnic violence in Kosovo in recent weeks.

Five other Serbs were wounded when at least nine mortar rounds were fired at the village, which lies in the sector controlled by US peacekeepers. They are being treated at a US base.

Rebuilding the Balkans
The Nato-led peace-keeping force K-For is investigating the incident but said there was no indication yet as to who was behind the attack on Monday night.

A correspondent in Kosovo, Orla Guerin, says the village of Klotot, south-east of the provincial capital, Pristina, is a tense place for Serbs. A large number of Albanian villages surround the mainly Serb village.

She described the attack as part of a pattern of ethnic violence that has been taking place in isolated and vulnerable areas of Kosovo over the past eight weeks.

But she said K-For was stressing that the latest killings do not indicate the situation in the province is out of control.

The incident occurred after the United Nations Refugee agency, the UNCHR, said it was evacuating Serbs from Kosovo because of continuing attacks.

'I'd leave if I could'

In Pristina, a Serb family were held hostage in their home by armed Kosovo Albanian men, who beat and attempted to rape a 30-year-old woman. They were stopped when British peacekeepers arrived at the scene.

"I'd leave tonight if there were was a way to get out of the city safely," the woman told the Reuters news agency.

In another incident, an eight-year-old ethnic Albanian boy was shot and wounded on Monday in the village of Petrovce, also in the American sector, the peacekeeping command said.

The attacks underscore the failure of the 40,000-member Nato-led peacekeeping force to halt the cycle of ethnic violence that still grips Kosovo.



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