Two seriously ill in Kosovo prison hunger strike

PRISTINA, Apr 23, 2000 -- (Reuters) Thirty-one Serbs and five Gypsies jailed in Kosovo have been on a hunger strike since April 10 and two are in a serious condition, UN police in the province said on Saturday.

Six of the inmates at the detention center in the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica have refused to take medicine, according to a statement by Kosovo's post-war UN administration police. It gave no further information.

Mitrovica is split into ethnic Albanian and Serb-dominated sectors. Ethnic violence plagued the city until NATO peacekeepers improved security at riverbank crossing points a few weeks ago to keep militants of the two communities apart.

International security forces in Kosovo have jailed Serbs, Albanians and Gypsies alike mainly for possession of illegal war weapons and armed violence, including occasional assaults on peacekeepers.

No trials have been conducted because UN authorities have not yet set up a court system in the general absence of competent judges.

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