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Kosovo's Leaders Warn Against Extremism


Leaders of Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province have urged residents to refrain from violence after a public television station showed armed members of a banned ethnic-Albanian militant group.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku Thursday called the presence of such groups "harmful" and urged citizens to cooperate with the United Nations administration and international peacekeepers in the province.

Kosovo television Wednesday broadcast footage of masked members of the so-called Albanian National Army, who said they are preparing to protect Kosovo from any Serb troops that might attempt to enter the area.

The U.N. Mission in Kosovo has banned the group and declared it a "terrorist organization." The Albanian National Army emerged in neighboring Macedonia in 2001, following ethnic clashes in that country.

The armed group has claimed responsibility for several terrorist acts in the region.

Ethnic Albanians account for about 90 percent of Kosovo's two million citizens. The province has been under U.N. administration since NATO air raids in 1999 halted Belgrade's deadly crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. Kosovo's leaders are seeking independence from Serbia. Belgrade refuses to relinquish any part of its territory.

Militants on both sides have expressed readiness to fight over the contested province.