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NATO To Send Reinforcements To Kosovo After New Attacks

By Nicholas Wood

The New York Times -- PRISTINA, Kosovo

NATO ordered reinforcements to Kosovo on Thursday as peacekeepers struggled to stem a wave of ethnic violence across the province, in southern Serbia.

The additional 1,000 troops, which will bring the overall NATO force to 19,000, began arriving Thursday evening, at the end of a second day of violence between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in which at least 31 people have been killed and hundreds injured, according to U.N. officials. Most of the dead were ethnic Serbs.

Security forces appeared at a loss as to how to reassert their control over the predominantly Albanian province as crowds attacked Serbian neighborhoods for a second night.

Throughout the day, scores of Serbian houses were set on fire, and according to a spokesman for the Serbian Orthodox Church, at least 20 churches were burned.

In one of the most serious incidents on Thursday, Swedish soldiers opened fire when gunmen emerged from a large group of Albanian protesters near the ethnically mixed village of Caglavica, south of Pristina, the provincial capital. The demonstrators had been trying force their way through a barricade set up to protect Serbs’ houses.

The shooting appeared to reflect a toughening of the peacekeepers’ response to the violence. Earlier in the day, the German commander of the force, Gen. Holdger Kammerhoff, announced at a news conference that “proportionate force” would be used to ensure the troops’ safety.

Many Serbian leaders voiced outrage that the United Nations seems unable to protect Serbs, who make up just under 10 percent of the population. But local leaders also noted that some Albanians had gone out of their way to save Serbian neighbors from attack.

The clashes appeared to have begun as a spontaneous response to the drowning of two Albanian children in Mitrovica. Albanians blamed the deaths on Serbs.