Kosovo Violence Shows No Sign of Letting up in the Call for Peace

Since the Wednesday's outbreak of violence in Mitrovica, Albanian Muslims are killing Christian Serbs and torching homes, churches, and monasteries in Kosovo. U.N. police have confirmed at least 31 people have died and about 500 wounded by rioting Muslims.

Nato has been sending 1000 more troops to reinforce the 18,500 already there. Top commander of the Nato-led force in Kosovo, known as K-For, has authorised the troops to use force if necessary. Nato troops had to use teargas against Albanian protesters seeking to march on the village of Caglavica, south of Pristina on Thursday, the second day of violence.

At least 13 Christian churches are burning, and new fires are being reported, including one at the monastery of St. Michael the Archangel. Mobs of angry Albanians have even burned Serbian Orthodox churches, the religious symbol of the Serbians, in a latest attack which is showing no sign of a let-up.

Bill Murray of the Religions Freedom Coalition says the situation is critical for Christians. "Virtually every church in Kosovo is in flames, and Christians are fleeing for their lives. In virtually every town, the Muslims have moved into the Christian areas and the United Nations' troops have been forced to withdraw."

International staff have been forced to relocate from Mitrovica as a result of the violence, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the Security Council meeting.

UN has tried to condemn the violence and urge calm while the European Union has called on local leaders to rein in violence. Even the main Kosovo Albanian political parties have issued a statement urging their supporters to call off the protests.
Nevertheless, Serbia has condemned both Nato and the UN for failing to protect the Serb minority in the province.