Looters raid homes of UN police in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Jul 22, 2000 -- (Reuters) Looters raided two apartments rented by United Nations police officers in Kosovo in the latest in a series of attacks aimed at the force in the northern city of Mitrovica, the U.N. said on Friday.

The robbers struck in the Serb-dominated north of the ethnically divided city on Thursday when the police officers were not at home, said Susan Manuel, a spokeswoman for Kosovo's UN-led administration.

Serbs began targeting UN police in the city after the arrest on Monday of a Serb man suspected of assaulting an ethnic Albanian. A judge released the suspect from custody on Thursday while legal proceedings continue.

The multinational police force said one of its officers had been threatened by around 20 Serbs on Thursday, and Serbs had moved into the home of an officer evacuated earlier this week by the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force.

The police force suspended all patrols in northern Mitrovica for almost two days at the height of the tension. Manuel said the situation had now improved.

"They (the police) are experiencing greater freedom of movement, going from their accommodations to work, than in the last few days," she told a news briefing in Pristina.

Eight ethnic Albanian families complaining of intimidation by Serbs have evacuated their homes in northern Mitrovica since Monday and moved to the south of the city, said Paula Ghedini, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

"Several of them did have quite harrowing stories to tell, including an 80-year-old man who was beaten quite badly and was threatened for several days in a row," she said.

Since the UN and NATO moved into Kosovo in June last year, Mitrovica has been a flashpoint with tensions between Albanians and Serbs often spilling over into violence.

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