21 More ethnic Albanians flee Serb half of divided Kosovo Town

PRISTINA, Jul 30, 2000 -- (AFP) More ethnic Albanian families have fled the northern half of Kosovska Mitrovica, where they are being persecuted by Serbs, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Saturday.

"Some of them have been physically or verbally threatened, others have been evicted from their homes," said Paula Ghedini, explaining that 21 more families had left in the past two-and-a-half weeks.

She said the families were leaving the ethnically-mixed JFK area and the Muslim enclave of Little Bosnia in northern Mitrovica, the Serb-majority half of the northern Kosovo town.

The departure rate appeared to be increasing, Ghedini said.

On Friday morning, Serbs threatened a Turkish family living in the north, Kosovo's UN police said Saturday.

"We believe that there are still approximately 100 to 150 isolated families that live primarily in Serb or mixed areas, that are continuing to be harassed almost on a daily basis in some cases," Ghedini said.

Around 1,000 ethnic Albanians live in the northern part of Mitrovica and only aound 20 Serbs live south of the river Ibar in the majority-Albanian part of the town, according to the latest UNHCR figures released in February.

Peacekeeping troops from the KFOR multinational force stand guard on the bridge between the two areas to prevent clashes between the communities.

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