CEOL
Events in Kosovska Mitrovica since KFOR deployment

2000-02-23


(RFE/RL) - International peacekeepers moved Tuesday to defuse tension in the ethnic powder-keg town of Kosovska Mitrovica, following scuffles the day before between multinational troops and a large crowd of ethnic Albanians.

Kosovska Mitrovica, the biggest town in northern Kosovo, has witnessed heightened tension since February 13 when an ethnic Albanian sniper was killed and two French soldiers were wounded in a gunfight.

The town is divided into a mainly Serb zone in the north and an overwhelmingly Albanian zone in the south, with the Ibar River between them. There have been frequent ethnic clashes in the town since the end of NATO bombing in June 1999.

Events since then:

JUNE 1999

12: International peacekeeping forces enter Kosovo. A French contingent arrives in Kosovska Mitrovica on June 17.

22: French peacekeepers intervene to stop pillaging and ethnic-cleansing attacks.

JULY

1: Three Albanians are attacked by three Serbs after they cross the main bridge which has become the symbol of ethnic hatred in the town.

2: Tension builds after KFOR troops arrest a Serb leader, Dragan Marjanovic, known as "Culja." Marjanovic is the recognized leader of 250 Serbs, many of whom are armed, who continue to block Albanians from entering the Serb part of town.

3: KFOR troops put up barriers on the main bridge to prevent demonstrators wearing Kosovo Liberation Army colors from coming onto the bridge.

7: KFOR allow 5,000 Albanians to cross the main bridge into the north, they march peacefully.

AUGUST

7-9: KFOR troops clash with Albanian protesters trying to march in the north.

SEPTEMBER

9-10: Several hundred Albanians, KFOR troops and Serbs clash, leaving at least 150 wounded.

OCTOBER

5: One Serb dies and 10 others wounded in incidents in the south after the funeral of Albanians killed by Serbs in April.

DECEMBER

16: Six people are wounded, including two American U.N. policemen, in clashes between Serbs and Albanians.

FEBRUARY 2000

2: Two Serbs are killed in a rocket attack on a bus under KFOR escort near Kosovska Mitrovica.

3-4: Eight die (six Albanians, two Turks) when Serb and Albanian communities clash. Two attacks on Serb cafes in the north leave more than 20 wounded.

4-5: Albanian protesters and KFOR troops clash on the main bridge: 16 French soldiers receive minor wounds.

7: An Albanian flat in the north is hit by a grenade. About 2,000 Serbs demonstrate against U.N. Kosovo administrator Bernard Kouchner, charging that he did not provide sufficient protection.

10: The Washington Post reports that French KFOR troops refused to assist U.N. policemen and to help wounded Albanians during the February 3-4 fighting.

11: British KFOR troops are deployed on the main bridge following violent clashes between Serbs and Albanians. Kouchner announces improved security measures.

12: French and Danish KFOR soldiers close a cafe popular with Serb protesters.

13: Seven Albanians are wounded, two seriously, in a grenade attack. Two French soldiers are wounded by snipers. One Albanian sniper is killed and five wounded by KFOR soldiers. Four Serbs are wounded, according to the Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug.

14: KFOR sends 50 Belgian troops to Kosovska Mitrovica as reinforcements.

15: KFOR's commander, German General Klaus Reinhardt announces that Greek troops serving with the international force will replace British soldiers guarding the bridge which separates the two communities.

16: Fresh build-up of tension with the firing of grenades in the northern sector of the town.

20: KFOR launches "Operation Ibar" aimed at confiscating the stockpiles of Serbian and Albanian weapons.

American troops, deployed that morning, withdraw to the southern half of the town after Serbs bombard their armored vehicles with stones and bottles. The soldiers return to the northern side the following day.

21: More than 30,000 ethnic Albanians set out from the provincial capital Pristina on a march towards Kosovska Mitrovica and succeed in entering the southern half of the town. Thousands of Albanians converge on the key bridge. Scuffles break out between KFOR troops and the ethnic Albanians as they seek to cross over to the northern side of the town.




Original article