The Nando Times - Clash in northern Kosovo leaves two Americans injured

By MIHAELA ARMASELU

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (December 17, 1999) - Two Americans serving with U.N. police in Kosovo were seriously injured trying to break up a melee between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, a U.N. official said Friday. The confrontation happened a day after a U.S. soldier was killed by a land mine.

U.N. police spokesman Gilles Moreau said the two, whose names were not released, were struck in the head by stones during the clash Thursday in the northern Kosovo city of Kosovska Mitrovica. He said their injuries were "not life-threatening."

The melee broke out in front of the offices of the Albanian Republican Party in the Serb-controlled northern part of the city. An ethnic Albanian was arrested after U.N. police broke up the fight.

Kosovska Mitrovica, the province's most ethnically mixed city, has been the scene of frequent clashes. The Ibar river divides the city into Serb and Albanian-controlled sectors, with French peacekeepers struggling to keep the groups apart.

U.N. police refused to say what triggered the brawl. A Serb leader, Oliver Ivanovic, said the fight started when ethnic Albanians began stoning a group of Serbs who gathered outside the party headquarters.

The incident is an example of the ongoing violence that the United Nations and NATO have been unable to stop despite the presence of about 50,000 peacekeepers.

On Wednesday, an American soldier was killed when his military vehicle struck a land mine in eastern Kosovo. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon identified the soldier as Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Suponcic, 26, of Jersey Shore, Pa.

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