CEOL
Kosovo weddings descend into violence

PRISTINA, Jul 31, 2000 -- (AFP) Three Kosovar weddings turned into confrontations with international police and soldiers, spokesmen for the UN police and KFOR multinational force said Sunday.

In one incident Saturday near the town of Decani in southwest Kosovo an Italian UN police officer was badly beaten by a mob of about 50 wedding guests and had to be taken to hospital, a UN spokesman said.

The Italian officer and a German colleague were responding to reports of celebratory gunfire at the ethnic Albanian wedding ceremony and stopped a car containing members of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), the civilian successor to the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army.

An angry crowd attacked the police officers after they tried to search the vehicle. A patrol of KFOR peacekeepers managed to reach the men and rescue them, but no-one was arrested, the spokesman said.

In a separate incident in the village of Mogila, in southeast Kosovo, US KFOR troops arrested two men who refused to remove an Albanian banner from a wedding procession before it drove through a Serbian area, KFOR spokesman Sergeant Pat McGuire said.

It is an Albanian tradition for wedding parties to be preceded by a car carrying the national emblem -- a black eagle on a red field -- but KFOR troops regard it as provocative to display the flag in Serb communities.

US peacekeeping troops were called to another wedding ceremony in Koretin, southeast Kosovo, on Saturday after two bursts of automatic gunfire were reported, McGuire said.



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