Three Serbs shot dead after returning to Kosovo

PRISTINA, Jan 17, 2000 -- (Reuters) Three Serb men returning to Kosovo were shot dead close to the provincial boundary with the rest of Serbia, international authorities said on Monday.

Kosovo's United Nations police said the men were killed in the Pasjane area of eastern Kosovo on Sunday afternoon.

Between 100 and 200 Serbs demonstrated in the nearby town of Partes after hearing of the killings, police said.

More than 100,00 Serbs have fled Kosovo since last June in fear of revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians angry at years of Serb repression.

It was not immediately clear whether the victims of Sunday's attack had been part of this exodus. Some Serbs have continued to live in Kosovo but frequently cross the boundary to visit friends or run errands in an environment where they feel safer.

U.S. forces who patrol eastern Kosovo would say only that military police had found the bodies of three adults lying face down about 200 yards (meters) from the Serbian border.

Nadia Younes, a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), warned against assuming that Albanians carried out the killings.

"I think that we don't quite know the circumstances around this murder," she told a news briefing in Pristina. "We have not yet ascertained that it was an ethnically based murder."

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