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Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 17:40 GMT
Bomb blast suspects released

serb Thousands of Serbs have fled Kosovo fearing revenge attacks

Four people arrested after a bomb attack on a Serb-run cafe in Kosovo have been released due to a lack of evidence, peacekeepers have said.

The war in Kosovo
The Nato-led peacekeeping force, K-For said eight people were hurt, two seriously, when a homemade bomb was thrown into the cafe in the eastern town of Vitina at around 1600 (1500 GMT) on Monday.

The two seriously injured and a third with minor injuries are being treated at a military hospital at Camp Bondsteel, the main base for US troops in Kosovo.

"All the injured are suffering from shrapnel wounds but are resting quietly and are in a stable condition," K-For Lieutenant Commander Philip Anido said in a statement.

This puts additional pressure on the Serb population
Father Sava
The attack occurred in the sector of Kosovo controlled by US troops but no American soldiers were involved, US Army Captain Russell Berg said.

In response to the attack Serbs have requested extra vigilance from peacekeepers and international police over the New Year period.

On Tuesday Serb leaders, including Bishop Artemije and local politicians, met officials of the peacekeeping force to discuss the demand for vigilance against violence.

Father Sava, one of the leaders of the Serb Orthodox church, said: "This is one in a series of attacks which have happened in the recent past. This also puts additional pressure on the Serb population.

'Increase tensions'

"We hope that K-For (peacekeepers) and the UN police will take all necessary measures to find the perpetrators of this crime.

"It is very important for all people to understand that violence cannot bring us any good in the future. No one can build a better life on misfortune of the others."

Hashim Thaci, an ethnic Albanian leader, said on Tuesday: "This attack can increase more tensions in Kosovo, but I believe we can overcome this situation with fast establishment of executive mechanisms."

Shot in the ankle

Since Nato bombing drove Serb troops from Kosovo in June, the province has seen a wave of revenge attacks by the majority Kosovo Albanians.

Correspondents say the US-led military sector, which includes Vitina, has been a particular flashpoint as a sizeable Serb population remains in the area - unlike many other parts of the territory.

Two other incidents of violence were reported on Monday.

In late evening a man was shot in the ankle after dark in Kosovoska Kamenica, which is under Russian control in the American sector of Kosovo.

Suspect arrested

A vacant Serb house was also set on fire in the Bosnian quarter of the northern sector of the divided town of Kosovoska Mitrovica.

Kosovo's international police force also said they had arrested a suspect in connection with an attack last month.

They said they had detained a 27-year-old Albanian man after receiving information from witnesses.

A Serb professor was shot dead and his wife and mother-in-law, aged 76, were beaten up by a mob in the attack on 29 November.

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See also:
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Protection demanded for Kosovo Serbs
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Horrors of Kosovo revealed
10 Sep 99 |  Europe
Call to protect Kosovo minorities
03 Aug 99 |  Europe
Kosovo's minorities 'under attack'

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