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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Albanians Increasingly Turn Anger On KFOR




PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, long the victims of violence and persecution, are increasingly becoming involved in violent confrontations with the foreign forces that liberated them, and with the Kosovo Serbs who once dominated them.


In three separate incidents Wednesday, ethnic Albanians clashed with NATO peacekeepers.


No injuries were reported in the confrontations between NATO forces and ethnic Albanians that included scuffling with U.S. troops in Gnjilane, and the arrest of nine men by U.S. troops for attacking a Russian tank in the nearby village of Dobrcane.


The ethnic Albanians accuse NATO troops from France and Russia of favoring Serbs, but NATO officials deny this.


Brigadier General John Craddock, the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Kosovo, called ethnic Albanian claims that Russian troops sympathize with the Serbs a "disinformation campaign'' based on a preconceived notion.


He said the Russians operating in the U.S.-controlled eastern sector were doing an "outstanding job.''


NATO officials reported one Serb woman was shot to death and her son was injured in Kosovska Kamenica, in the U.S. sector southeast of Pristina.


Three ethnic Albanians were beaten overnight in the Serb-controlled part of divided Kosovska Mitrovica, after Serbs forced their way into Albanian apartments and told the inhabitants to leave, said Captain Bertrand Bonneau of the French troops patrolling the city.


French troops stopped a crowd of ethnic Albanians from crossing the central bridge into the city's Serb-dominated sector after four explosions sounded in the city Tuesday night, Bonneau said.


It was the fourth straight day that ethnic Albanians tried to storm the Serb sector and another indication of the depth of ethnic divisions.


On Wednesday, a 9-year-old boy and a young girl were cut on barbed wire that was accidentally dragged by a NATO vehicle on the bridge, Bonneau said.


In Gnjilane in southeast Kosovo, three ethnic Albanians were temporarily detained after a group demanding the release of 10 men arrested with weapons scuffled with U.S. troops. No one was injured.


Also Wednesday, U.S. troops arrested nine men for attacking a Russian tank that drove past a demonstration in the village of Dobrcane, a few kilometers east of Gnjilane. The U.S. troops were monitoring the demonstration when the tank rolled by and some of the crowd of several hundred tried to climb on it, said 2nd Lieutenant Matt Farmer. "It got out of control a little bit,'' Farmer said.


Other violence reported by NATO included nine mortar rounds fired into the ethnic Albanian community of Grabovac, outside Pec in western Kosovo, that slightly injured two people, and arson attacks that resulted in the arrest of 13 ethnic Albanians.


Ron Redmond, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman in Pristina, condemned violence by ethnic Albanian "thugs'' that has driven most Serbs from the Kosovo capital. He said the intimidation and attacks appeared to be "systematic'' in nature, but he didn't know if any particular group was responsible.


According to statistics provided by the UNHCR, less than 2,000 Serbs remain in Pristina, compared with a prewar population of at least 27,000.