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Serbian Police Arrest 27 Extremists at Rally


Serbian police have arrested 27 nationalist demonstrators who said they were recruiting volunteer guards to fight in Kosovo if the breakaway province tries to separate from Serbia.

Several hundred people, including military veterans and former paramilitaries, gathered at a rally Saturday in the central Serbian city of Krusevac to swear allegiance to the "Tsar Lazar Guard". The group, which claims to have enlisted 5,000 volunteers, is named after a medieval Serbian leader who died fighting the Ottoman Turks in the 1389 battle for Kosovo.

The detainees were wearing black T-shirts with the letters JSO, a symbol of a banned paramilitary group from the 1990s. Authorities said they will start legal procedures against them.

Kosovo is part of Serbia, but has been under United Nations administration since 1999 when NATO air raids halted Belgrade's deadly crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

A U.N.-mediated plan for Kosovo envisions supervised independence for the region, something many Serbs refuse to accept, because they consider the region Serbia's historical heartland. More than 90 percent of Kosovo's population today is ethnic-Albanian.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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