Nato's Robertson warns Kosovo 'extremists'

BRUSSELS, Mar 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) The NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo will not tolerate deliberate provocations of violence by extremists, alliance Secretary-General George Robertson warned on Wednesday.

Robertson condemned a flare-up in the tense northern city of Kosovoska Mitrovica on Tuesday in which more than 40 people, including 16 French soldiers of the KFOR peace mission, were injured by hand-grenade blasts and shooting.

"Deliberate provocations by extremists and troublemakers will not be tolerated by KFOR. We will not stand idly by and allow them to achieve their goals of division, separatism and ethnic hatred," Robertson said in a written statement.

He said KFOR commanders would respond vigorously to any attacks on NATO-led troops, and he appealed to Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo "to reject violence and hate-mongering".

KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo said on Wednesday Mitrovica was calm overnight.

Peacekeepers struggle daily to prevent clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the city. Albanians dominate the area south of the River Ibar, which runs through the city, while Serbs form a majority in the north.

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