Int. Herald Tribune
Kosovo ethnic enmity flares

Paris, Saturday, February 5, 2000

MITROVICA, Kosovo - French troops fired tear gas Friday at hundreds of ethnic Albanians throwing bottles and stones, climaxing a day of violence in which at least six Albanians were killed and 21 Serbs were wounded.

About 500 ethnic Albanians unleashed a barrage of stones and bottles to protest the NATO-led peacekeepers' inability to prevent the deaths of six Albanians who were slain on the Serbian-controlled northern side of this Kosovo city.

The French responded with tear gas and called for assistance from the Kosovo Protection Corps, a policing unit made up of former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, officially banned.

Corps members, carrying weapons, managed to calm the crowd and persuade the ethnic Albanians to go home.

The melee at the main bridge across the Ibar River, which divides the city into hostile ethnic camps, followed a night of violence that began after three ethnic Albanians who were living on the Serbian-controlled north bank were slain in separate incidents.

At least three others died of their injuries throughout Friday, NATO officials said.

As word of the killings spread, unknown attackers, believed to have been ethnic Albanians, hurled grenades into two Serbian cafés, wounding 21 Serbs, according to NATO.

The tensions eased during the night but resumed again Friday. NATO peacekeepers have imposed an 8 P.M. to 5 A.M. curfew on the city.