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Kosovo Albanians Demonstrate

April 12, 1998

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ About 6,000 ethnic Albanians marched down the main street of Kosovo’s capital on Sunday in another peaceful demonstration against the Serbian regime.

The half-hour protest walk _ the third in as many days in the restive southern province of Serbia _ passed without incident, with only traffic police standing by.

The protesters, mainly young people, walked in silence, not carrying any banners or flashing the victory sign with their fingers as they have in the past.

The ethnic Albanians’ Kosovo Information Center in Pristina said later Sunday that demonstrations had also been held in the towns of Vucitrn, Djeneral Jankovic, Stimlje and Kacanik.

It said that police in Kacanik detained 17 Albanians, two of whom were subsequently released. The information could not be independently confirmed.

The center also said the daily walks will continue ``as long as Kosovo is held in prison.″

The marches are in response to the Albanian leaders’ calls for daily pro-independence protests.

Serbia has ruled Kosovo with a massive military and police presence since abolishing its autonomy in 1989.

More than 80 people were killed in a police sweep against separatist terrorists last month in the Drenica region west of Pristina. Police said the crackdown was against the Kosovo Liberation Army, a loose organization which has claimed responsibility for the deaths of dozens of Serbs and Albanians loyal to the Serbian regime since surfacing in l996.

Serbia has decided to hold a referendum on whether foreigners should mediate talks on Kosovo’s future, as has been urged by the United States and other world powers. Serb voters are expected to reject such mediation.

The Albanian side has been shunning Serbian government-proposed talks in Pristina for several weeks now, demanding unconditional discussion on independence. Last week the government said it would draw up its own Kosovo action plan if the Albanians continue their boycott.

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