Serbs in southern Kosovo demonstrate again over missing shepherd

PRISTINA, Jun 26, 2000 -- (AFP) Around 80 Kosovo Serbs demonstrated in the southern Kosovo town of Strpce Sunday to protest the disappearance of a Serb shepherd, a spokesman for the US contingent of the KFOR peacekeeping force said.

The peaceful gathering followed rioting late Friday when hundreds of local Serbs rampaged through UN and KFOR offices, destroying computers and burning a UN flag, to protest what they saw as KFOR's slow response to the disappearance of Bozidar Markocevic.

The Serbs warned KFOR that if the shepherd, who failed to return home Friday evening after tending to his flock, had not shown up by midday (1000 GMT) Sunday, they would hold a demonstration, said Captain Russell Berg.

An initial KFOR report Saturday said Markocevic had been found but Berg said the man was still missing Sunday.

The rampage late Friday was the first time UN offices have been attacked since the UN assumed responsibility for administering the southern Yugoslav province a year ago.

UN policemen and KFOR troops dispatched to investigate his disappearance were met in the village of Susice, Markocevic's hometown, by residents who had erected roadblocks in protest, a UN official said.

Meanwhile, around 800 Serbs gathered in front of Strpce's town hall and police station, demanding to speak with the UN administrator and pelting his car with stones as he tried to leave for the other village.

Around 400 protestors then stormed into the UN and KFOR offices, smashing whatever they found, the UN official said.

Another young Serb man in Susice told AFP by telephone that four-armed ethnic Albanians, one dressed in a black uniform and the others in camouflage fatigues had tried to kidnap him Sunday just outside the village.

Jovica Milic said the men abducted him at gunpoint and tried to lead him off toward a nearby ethnic Albanian village.

He said he gave his abductors the slip while they were talking among themselves.

The Serb enclave, located in the US-controlled southern sector of Kosovo, has been the site of several clashes between Kosovo Serbs and KFOR troops.

Original article