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Serbs In Muslim-dominated Kosovo Live In Fear

BELGRADE (AP)--Serbia's president said Sunday that Serbs in Kosovo live in fear, despite promises to protect their rights as a minority from the U.N. authorities and ethnic Albanian leaders in the troubled province. 

President Boris Tadic issued a statement to mark the third anniversary of an attack on Serb teenagers in Kosovo, when gunmen killed two and wounded four while they were swimming in a river in the western village of Gorazdevac. 

"Serbs live in constant fear for their lives and the lives of their families," Tadic said. "The international community must find the perpetrators of this crime and provide security for all." 

Kosovo is a province of Serbia, but it has been an international protectorate since 1999. Majority ethnic Albanians want independence from Serbia, but Belgrade opposes it. Kosovo's final status will be decided at ongoing U.N.-brokered talks. 

Tadic accused the international officials in Kosovo and the local authorities of "doing nothing to solve the murder of the children." 

The Serbs in Kosovo - about 100,000 of them who remained there after Serbia lost control over the province after the 1999 NATO air war - live in isolated enclaves, without freedom of movement and fearing attacks from extremist ethnic Albanians. 

Ethnic Albanian leaders recently have sought to dispel Serb fears and promise more rights, but have been unable to curb attacks from extremists who wish to drive the remaining Serbs from Kosovo, and seek revenge for the brutal Serb attacks during the 1998-99 war. 

Tadic urged the ethnic Albanian leaders to "do something against extremists and criminals in their ranks." He insisted that "words are not good enough." 

There was no immediate comment from Kosovo on Tadic's statement. 

The talks on Kosovo's final status started earlier this year. The rights and the position of the Serbs in Kosovo are a key issue at the negotiations. 

August 13, 2006 07:06 ET (11:06 GMT)


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