Peacekeepers cut aid to Strpce Serbs

PRISTINA, Jul 2, 2000 -- (AFP) Kosovo peacekeepers have cut off humanitarian aid and convoys services to Serbs living in the isolated southern town of Strpce after ongoing unrest in the enclave, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

The decision by the US-led KFOR troops in the southeastern sector came after Serbs rampaged through UN and KFOR offices a week ago following the murder of a local farmer, said Major Debbie Allen.

Due to the "continuing lack of cooperation" from the Serb community KFOR would stop escorting Serbs to other Serb centers and would withdraw aid such as road repairs, bridge building and school projects in the mountainous enclave, she said.

But she said KFOR would still provide emergency medical aid and had set up an extra checkpoint for the community, surrounded by ethnic Albanian villages.

After attacking the UN offices, Strpce's Serbs withdrew all cooperation with the international community, while 14 local Serb police officers resigned in protest at the international community's position on Kosovo's Serbs.

Most Serbs in the south of the Yugoslav province live in enclaves under the guard of international troops, while those in the Serb-dominated north have more freedom of movement.

The UNHCR refugee agency suspended all aid to the Serb area of Kosovska Mitrovica, the main town in the north, for a week after Serb rioting left five UN vehicles destroyed and one French aid worker was beaten.

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