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The BBC's Jon Leyne in Mitrovica
"Conflict can erupt at any moment"
 real 28k

Bernard Kouchner, UN Kosovo
"Very sad day"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 09:35 GMT
UN Kosovo chief condemns extremists
french peacekeepers going to bridge
French peacekeepers move in to secure the bridge dividing Mitrovica
The head of the United Nations' administration in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, has described Tuesday's clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica as another victory for extremists on both sides.

Kosovo: Special Report
In a BBC interview, Mr Kouchner said the authorities should not be discouraged - the divided town would be unified in the future.

At least 40 people, including 16 French peacekeepers, were injured during violence in the Serb district of Mitrovica on Tuesday.

The Nato military chief in Europe, General Wesley Clark, met Serb and ethnic Albanian leaders in Mitrovica afterwards and urged them to help restore calm.

K-For spokesman Philip Anido said Mr Clark had asked the leaders to "call for responsible behaviour".

Violent escalation

Mr Anido said the violence appeared to have been sparked by an argument between a Serb and an ethnic Albanian, which escalated into more serious clashes.


Shots were fired and four or five hand grenades were thrown, some of them injuring French peacekeepers as they arrived on the scene.

K-For spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Chanliau said said ethnic Albanians had committed the grenade attacks. Four men have been arrested.

Rising tensions

Two rockets were later reported to have hit a high-rise apartment complex in the Serbian part of the town, where dozens of Kosovo Albanians have recently been resettled by Nato peacekeepers.

Witnesses said a flat on the seventh floor of one building appeared to have been damaged.

Mitrovica has been the scene of repeated ethnic unrest in recent weeks, resulting in several deaths and dozens of injuries.

Following the latest violence, troops and UN police reinforced the main bridge over the river Ibar, which divides the Serb and ethnic Albanian areas.

But the BBC correspondent in Mitrovica, Jacky Rowland, says the latest violence is another reminder that the situation remains explosive.

She says the main tactic by the international community appears to be to put more troops on the streets but a political solution is nowhere in sight.

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See also:

20 Feb 00 |  Europe
Conflict over Kosovo arms probe
09 Feb 00 |  Europe
K-For 'stood back' in Mitrovica
04 Mar 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Mitrovica: K-For's hardest test
13 Feb 00 |  Europe
Violence flares in Kosovo town
25 Feb 00 |  Europe
Kosovo: What happened to peace?
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Analysis: What went wrong?
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