Nato and the UN step up security in Kosovo

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The Independent Online

Nato peace-keepers in Kosovo are stepping up security operations in readiness for possible outbreaks of violence during this weekend's elections, Nato and United Nations officials said yesterday.

Nato peace-keepers in Kosovo are stepping up security operations in readiness for possible outbreaks of violence during this weekend's elections, Nato and United Nations officials said yesterday.

Bernard Kouchner, Kosovo's de facto governor and UN civil administrator, said: "We will heighten security in high-risk areas, but K-For and the UN will not provide security for election-related materials."

The Nato spokesman Major Scott Slaten said: "K-For troops will increase their observational capacity of developments, so that Multi-National Brigade commanders on the ground can react quickly and pre-empt any incidents."

Both Nato and UN security sources are concerned that Albanians will use the election period to attack Serbs, especially after Hashim Thaci, the leader of Kosovo's hardline PDK party, said that he would not support any Yugoslavian elections held on Kosovan territory.

This has been interpreted by international analysts as a possible invitation to Albanians to attack Serbs as they vote.

Kosovo's Serb minority, who are regular victims of ethnic violence in the province, came under fire again this week in a series of hand-grenade and other attacks around the town of Gnjilane in south-western Kosovo, which claimed the lives of one Serb and one Roma.

In the capital, Pristina, there have been seven shootings in one week, involving the death of two people, one of them of a Serb.

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