Serb communities come under attack in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Jul 21, 2000 -- (AFP) Serbs came under attack in three different areas of Kosovo in what appeared to be the latest bout of inter-ethnic bloodletting to rock the province, police and peacekeepers said Thursday.

A Serbian farmer who was gathering hay with his wife near the eastern Kosovo village of Soracak was attacked Wednesday by four gunmen who fired three or four bursts of automatic fire, Captain Kath Hurley of the KFOR peacekeeping force said.

A British army patrol found the man, who had been injured in his upper arm, at around 7:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) and transported him to hospital in the nearby town of Gracanica, she said.

He is expected to survive and an investigation into the incident is to be conducted by a team from KFOR's US-led eastern brigade, she added.

In a separate attack in northern Kosovo, a house in the Serbian village of Gojbula was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade at around 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, a spokesman for Kosovo's UN police force said.

A 65-year-old Serb who was standing in front of his house when the grenade hit its roof was uninjured, the spokesman added.

Later a UN officer who went to the scene to investigate was attacked by an angry crowd of around 20 Serbs who attempted to overturn his vehicle, the spokesman said. The police officer managed to escape unharmed.

In a third attack, three mortar bombs were fired Tuesday at the Serbian village of Goradzevac, Giovanni Ramunno, a spokesman for KFOR's western, Italian-led, brigade said.

No-one was injured and no damage was caused in the attack, Ramunno said.

Since the arrival in Kosovo last June of the KFOR peacekeeping force, Serbian communities have regularly been the target of revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians angry at atrocities committed against their own communities by Yugoslavian forces during the province's 1998-1999 civil war.

On Tuesday, troops of KFOR's US-led eastern brigade found what they believed to be a training area and bunker complex operated by extremists north of Strpce, a Serbian enclave in Kosovo's southern mountains.

The search was launched following requests from local Serb leaders that more needed to be done to improve security in the area, in which Serbs have recently been the target of kidnapping and murders, a US officer said.

"They asked us to do it and we did," said Colonel Joseph Orr.

"This operation emphasized KFOR's commitment to provide a safe and secure environment for all of Kosovo, an environment critical to creating a long-lasting peace."

During the search, troops found and destroyed bunkers and fighting positions and confirmed the location of a minefield, Orr said.

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