Masked gang stab elderly farmer to death

PRISTINA, Jul 3, 2000 -- (AFP) A masked gang stabbed an elderly Serbian farmer to death in the latest in a series of attacks near the southern Kosovar town of Gnjilane, the regional UN police commander said Sunday.

Garry Carrell said the man, in his eighties, was stabbed in the back by one of four unknown men as he tended his cows in an attack near the village of Cernica at 5:15 p.m. (1515 GMT) Saturday.

Three younger Serbs escaped unhurt and their assailants ran off after the attack, Carrell said.

The official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported that ethnic Albanian cattle rustlers were behind the attack, and named the victim as 82-year-old Sava Stojkovic.

Carrell said the identities of the attackers, one of whom is thought to have been carrying a firearm, was unknown and that an investigation was under way.

The ethnically mixed area around Gnjilane has been the scene of a series of violent incidents over the past month.

On Friday, a grenade exploded in the yard of a Serb-owned house in the Cernica, causing no injuries.

On May 28, three people, including a four-year-old child, were shot dead. An ethnic Albanian was arrested in connection with their murder.

Over the last month at least 12 Serbs have been killed in Kosovo, which has been administered by the United Nations since June last year when a NATO-led peacekeeping force took control of the province.

The UN Security Council resolution which set up the administration states that Kosovo is to remain part of the Yugoslav federation but enjoy "substantial autonomy."

This provision falls short of the full independence demanded by ethnic Albanian politicians and former guerrilla leaders, and the area remains tense as Serbs and ethnic Albanians continue to settle scores.

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