Swedish soldier shoots and wounds Serb in Kosovo

GRACANICA, Apr 7, 2000 -- (Reuters) A Swedish peacekeeper in Kosovo has shot and wounded a Serb man who was part of a crowd that tried to attack a patrol, the NATO-led KFOR force said.

Angry Serbs gathered in the town of Gracanica after the shooting late on Thursday, stoned a Swedish military base and attempted to break in, KFOR said. Around 70 peacekeepers broke up the crowd, according to a spokesman.

The trouble comes two days after U.S. troops clashed with Kosovo Serbs, and coincides with increased tension within the province's Serb minority.

Thursday evening's violence in Gracanica, about 15 km south of the provincial capital Pristina, began after a public meeting, said Flight Lieutenant Rob Hannam, a press officer for Kosovo's British-led central military sector.

Serb news agencies said the meeting had been held to protest against a decision by some Serb leaders to join leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority in the province's U.N.-sponsored joint administration.

After a Swedish patrol became involved in an argument with one man, a group of people carrying axes, pitchforks and other agricultural equipment gathered, Hannam said.

A warning shot failed to disperse the group. When a member of the crowd attempted to attack the troops with an axe in the early evening, a soldier deliberately fired at one man's leg, Hannam said.

"The shot man was transferred to the Russian field hospital in (the town of) Kosovo Polje with a Swedish doctor and an interpreter," Hannam said.

A crowd of between 150 and 200 Serbs later gathered at a Swedish base in the town and tried to break in, he said.

Around 60 to 70 Swedish troops advanced to disperse them and, by late evening, calm returned.

On Wednesday Serbs gathered outside Gracanica's 14th-century monastery, home of the Serb National Council, to protest against its decision to join the joint administration.

KFOR stepped up security at the monastery to keep out the angry crowd and one man was bitten by a KFOR attack dog.

Original article