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    KFOR REFUSE TO ALLOW SERBIAN SECURITY FORCES TO ASSIST IN ENDING RIOTS IN KOSOVO

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    BELGRADE, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Slabynko) - The commander of the international peacekeeping forces in Kosovo (KFOR) General Holger Kammerhoff rejected Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's proposal to have Serbian security forces cooperate with KFOR to end the riots in Kosovo and Metojia.

    KFOR Press Secretary Horst Piper has announced that the proposal was rejected in Pristina (the capital of the Kosovo province).

    "There will be no cooperation between KFOR and the Serbian security forces," he said. "The commander of the peacekeeping force can summon four battalions deployed in Europe to be promptly sent to Kosovo. They were already here and know the situation well." The KFOR spokesman said that 16 peacekeepers, mostly from the French and Danish units, were wounded in the riots.

    The riots began in Kosovska Mitrovica when Albanians from the southern part of the city attempted to go to the northern part (Serbian section). On Thursday, clashes spread to other cities and villages of Kosovo with predominantly Serbian population.

    The conflict started after several Albanian children drowned, allegedly because they were running from a group of Serbians.

    However, the press secretary of the UN civilian mission, Derek Chappell, refuted these allegations. Moreover, on Thursday one child was found. According to Mr. Chappel, the child did not mention being chased by Serbs.

    There are 70,000 Serbs living in Kosovo. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs had to flee Kosovo in the late 1990s. There are about 2 million Albanians in Kosovo.

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