NATO Reports 379 Murders in Kosovo
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Nearly 400 people have been murdered in Kosovo since NATO troops established control over the province, and a disproportionate number of them were Serbs, according to figures released today by NATO officials.
Of the 379 people murdered, 135 were Serbs, 145 were ethnic Albanians and the rest were of unknown or other ethnic origins, Maj. Ole Irgens said. But the numbers must be seen in the context of the dwindling Serb and majority Albanian populations in Kosovo.
While no recent census figures are available, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population was nearing 2 million before they were temporarily pushed out by the Serbs this spring.
The Serbs, originally numbering about 200,000, have been fleeing attacks by ethnic Albanians seeking revenge for the earlier Serb crackdown that left 10,000 people dead. Today, the Serb population in Kosovo is thought to be only in the tens of thousands.
The homicide figures appeared to support fears that Serbs were facing large-scale attacks based on their ethnicity.
Gypsies, or Roma, who are accused of being Serb allies, also were likely targets. In the latest reported Roma killing, a 40-year-old man was found dead Tuesday near Istok, not far from the western city of Pec, Irgens said.
And there appears to be no decrease in the murder rate, despite repeated appeals by foreign officials inside the province and abroad to end the targeting of Serbs and the Roma and to embark on reconciliation.
In fact, the homicide rate actually increased slightly in the last two weeks, Irgens said.
Also Tuesday, NATO reported that vandals burned down a Serb church in Gornja Zakup, about 6 miles from the northern Podujevo.