Kosovo Serbs wound soldier, damage UN vehicle

PRISTINA, Jul 7, 2000 -- (Reuters) Stone-throwing Serbs in a Kosovo village slightly injured a German soldier and damaged a UN vehicle, the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force said on Friday.

International agencies were being advised to avoid the southwestern village of Velika Hoca to calm tensions after the violence on Thursday, KFOR said.

Trouble flared overnight into Thursday when local residents in the Serb-dominated village gathered to protest about explosions they had heard, KFOR said.

A vehicle belonging to the United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was reported damaged and the soldier was wounded later in the day, KFOR spokesman Major Scott Slaten said.

"There was a barrier that was erected and was occupied by approximately 50 people who then threw stones at KFOR soldiers and UNMIK representatives," Slaten told a news briefing in the Kosovo capital Pristina.

Serbs have been the target of numerous attacks by members Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority seeking vengeance for years of Serb repression.

Serbs sometimes vent their anger on the international agencies in charge of their security, accusing them of failing to protect them. Velika Hoca is an isolated Serb enclave in a mostly Albanian area.

Local UN administrators had been harassed by some of the Serbs during Thursday's disturbances, UNMIK said.

"In fact they were pretty afraid," UNMIK spokeswoman Nadia Younes told the briefing. "They had to take refuge with some of the local population that shielded them."

She added: "I understand from our colleagues out there that it was a very hairy situation and it could have turned much uglier."

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