US soldiers hurt in clashes with Serb civilians

PRISTINA, Apr 5, 2000 -- (Reuters) Eleven U.S. troops, one Polish soldier and a translator were injured in clashes with Serb civilians in southern Kosovo on Tuesday, U.S. peacekeepers said.

A U.S. military spokesman said one American suffered a broken hand and others cuts and bruises in the conflict in the village of Sevce.

Soldiers of the Polish 18th Air Assault Battalion and a squad of U.S. Military Police searched a Serb home and discovered two hand grenades, U.S. military authorities said in a statement. A crowd of 150 Serbs formed around the home, blocking the soldiers' exit.

Reinforcements were sent and Polish troops formed a roadblock to hold back 300 Serbs at the village of Jacinze three km (two miles) away, it said.

Yugoslav news agency Beta said thousands of Serbs had turned out to protest against the weapons searches, erecting road barricades in the rural area. Radio Pancevo in Serbia said four Serbs were injured in the incident.

Almost all civilians in Kosovo are banned from owning weapons, and NATO-led peacekeeping troops have staged repeated searches for illegal arms. Serbs in scattered enclaves around Kosovo have often erected barricades to keep out ethnic Albanians after a wave of revenge attacks on Serbs since Serb troops withdrew from the province last year.

Original article