Police Patrol as More Violence Feared Marking 1981 Revolts
Apr. 01, 1989
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Heavily armed police today patrolled southern Kosovo province to prevent demonstrations by ethnic Albanians marking the anniversary of Serb-Albanian rioting in 1981.
Helmeted riot police patrolled the provincial capital, Pristina, the site of recent violence, but the city was calm.
At least 24 people died and more than 200 were wounded in the province on Monday and Tuesday when thousands of ethnic Albanians protested constitutional changes that increased Serbia's control over Kosovo. It was the deadliest rioting since 1981, when at least nine people were killed.
No incidents were reported today. Schools were closed, public gatherings banned and police enforced an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
The local Communist Party leadership met to discuss the recent rioting.
They were also to discuss the resignation of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian president Rahman Morina. He stepped down in February after striking miners claimed he did not represent Albanian interests because he agreed to constitutional changes reducing Kosovo's automony.
But the party leadership was expected not to accept Morina's resignation in a move that could cause more unrest by ethnic Albanians, according to Iljaz Ramajlji, a member of Kosovo's Politburo.
The state-run Tanjug news agency accused neighboring Albania of inciting the demonstrators and the interior minister complained out outside interference. Yugoslavia and Albania have communist regimes that have remained independent of the Soviet bloc.
Kosovo Interior Minister Jusuf Karakusi said Friday:
''The situation has the outward appearance of becoming calmer, but the organized hostile forces, acting from the position of Albanian nationalism and separatism, are not idle. They are preparing new actions.''
He said the riots were instigated by ''illegal hostile forces that are active in Kosovo and outside Yugoslavia.'' He did not name those forces.
A Tanjug commentary said Albania ''strongly incites extremist nationalists in Kosovo to actions against the law and order.''
The violence began after constitutional changes were made that gave Serbia, the largest republic in Yugoslavia, greater control over the judiciary, police and schools in Kosovo - a Serbian province. Kosovo had gained a substantial degree of autonomy under Yugoslavia's 1974 consitution.
But Serbian leaders said the new changes, which went into effect Tuesday, were necessary to protect the Slav minority from harassment by the ethnic Albanians that comprise 85 percent of Kosovo's population of 1.9 million.