(AFP) – Mar 17, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States condemned the violence against UN and NATO personnel in the flashpoint Kosovo town of Kosovska Mitrovica on Monday and urged the Serbian government to denounce it.
"The United States condemns the violence against UN and NATO personnel near the UN courthouse in Mitrovica, Kosovo, the morning of March 17, as well as the March 14 attack by demonstrators to occupy the building," said deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey in a statement.
He added: "We urge all communities in Kosovo to remain calm and we call on the Serbian government to denounce these acts of violence and take affirmative steps to reduce tensions."
More than 100 people, most of them international peacekeepers, were injured amid gunfire and a suspected grenade blast after they moved in to regain control of the UN-run tribunal in the northern Kosovo town.
The Serbs in the courthouse -- many of whom worked in the judiciary before Kosovo came under UN administration in 1999 -- had demanded the establishment of their own court.
The violence was the worst in Kosovo since it declared independence from Serbia on February 17. Belgrade, backed by Russia, rejected the move as illegal but it was supported by the United States and many Western countries.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a visit to Moscow, urged Serbian leaders to press the minority Serb community in Kosovo to avoid "provocative action."
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