Jordanians held after UN police shot dead

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The Independent Online

Three United Nations police officers based in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo have died after a row about Iraq apparently boiled over into a 10-minute gun battle between Americans and Jordanians.

Three United ations police officers based in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo have died after a row about Iraq apparently boiled over into a 10-minute gun battle between Americans and Jordanians.

Two American policewomen and a Jordanian policeman were killed in Kosovska Mitrovica on Saturday, the head of the UN police in Kosovo, Commissioner Stefan Feller, confirmed at a press conference in Pristina yesterday. Eleven UN policemen were wounded and were taken to hospital.

"This is a sad day for United Nations peace-keeping," Mr Feller said. He called the shooting a "reckless attack ... that left us in shock and dismay". The commissioner declined to comment on the motives said to have caused the gun battle. Four Jordanian policemen have been detained, Mr Feller said. "We hope that the incident will not bear influence on the rule of law in Kosovo," he added.

But other UN police sources, who insisted on anonymity, said the shootout was preceded by a verbal dispute about Iraq between the two groups.

The Americans and other Western police, all on their first day of training, were leaving the local prison compound, and the Jordanians from the UN police were guarding the gate.

Witnesses were quoted in local media as saying they heard an American shouting, "Drop down the gun, drop down the gun" shortly before the shootout.

Harri Holkeri, the head of the UN administration in Kosovo, said: "I am deeply shocked and dismayed at the unfortunate death of dedicated professionals who have come such a great distance to help Kosovo on its road to the future."

There have been no other recorded instance of problems between police of different nationalities in the five years since the UN and Nato entered Kosovo.

Police from some 30 nations make up the 3,500-strong international force, backed by the Nato-led K-For mission, with 20,000 troops. Until now there had been no visible sign of animosities between policemen and peacekeepers who hail from both Christian and Muslim countries.

The Americans involved in the incident had arrived less than two weeks ago, and the Jordanians are said to have been in Kosovo only a week longer. The UN police force includes 450 US officers, most of whom work for Dyncorp, a private company that trains police, prison and judicial officers who work in places such as Kosovo and Iraq. In Kosovo, There are 6,000 local police officers.

Despite the international presence, Kosovska Mitrovica was the epicentre of ethnic clashes last month.

Nineteen people died, and hundreds of Serb homes and two dozen churches were set alight by ethnic Albanians. The UN and Nato blamed Albanian extremists for trying to expel the remaining Serbs from Kosovo.

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