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UN Considers Latest Kosovo Violence - 2003-08-19

The U.N. Security Council on Monday discussed recent inter-ethnic incidents in Kosovo at the urging of the Serbian government. In the past week, two Serbs minority youths were killed in western Kosovo.

Two Serb boys were killed Wednesday by an unknown gunman while they were swimming in a river in the village of Gorazdevac in the Serbian enclave of Kosovo. Four other youngsters were also wounded. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic urged council members to crack down on Albanian extremists, and suggested peacekeeping forces should be increased.

"Crimes like this are not really unique," said Mr. Covic. "They belong to a pattern of activity that determine the minority of the Albanian population which seeks to drive all Serbs out from Kosovo-Metohia and, of course, discourage any refugees and internally-displaced persons from returning to bring the ethnic cleansing of the province to completion."

Mr. Covic said he doesn't believe that all Albanians approve of the brutalities. Still, he said, the majority of the Albanians remained silent while a few Albanians, primarily politicians, condemned the crimes at the same time that they recalled past Serbian crimes. Security Council members expressed support for the efforts of the new United Nations administrator for Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, to conduct investigations in the recent incidents.

"The brutal matters that have taken place in Gorazdevac should be a wake-up call," announced Munir Akram, who represents Pakistan on the council. "Our assessment is that although these are one incident in a series, they are indicative of the fact that underlying political issues relating to Kosovo remain to be resolutely addressed and resolved."

Council members voiced concern that the rising tide of violence in Kosovo will undermine proposals to start talks between the ethnic Albanians and Serbian authorities. The Serbian government says it will grant autonomy to Kosovo, but not the full independence demanded by ethnic Albanians.