CEOL
Russian Kosovo soldier dies of wounds

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Yugoslavia, Mar 2, 2000 -- (Reuters) A Russian soldier serving with the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo died of his wounds after being shot in an ethnic Albanian town, the French army said on Thursday.

"The Russian soldier died of internal bleeding overnight," said Major Philippe Maurin, a spokesman for the French KFOR forces stationed in the north of the turbulent province.

The Russian soldier, whose name was withheld pending notification of his family, was shot on Tuesday in the overwhelmingly Albanian town of Srbica.

The town is about 20 km (12 miles) south of Kosovska Mitrovica, the mining city which has become the frontline of continuing ethnic tension between Kosovo's ethnic Albanians and the dwindling Serb minority.

French officials said the incident was under investigation and have declined to comment on a motive for the shooting.

The soldier, a driver, was hit once in the chest in broad daylight in the center of Srbica, where he had taken his commanding officer for a meeting with local officials.

Srbica is just north of the area of Kosovo usually patrolled by Russian KFOR troops, who are distrusted and feared by ethnic Albanians who see the Russians as natural allies of their fellow Orthodox co-religionists, the Serbs.




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