BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Chanting 'We want freedom,' thousands of Serbian and Montenegrin teenagers Friday staged a protest march in the southeastern province of Kosova to demand protection from ethnic Albanian separatists.
Secondary school students in the town of Pristina who began boycotting classes Thursday joined mass protests that began in July in the Serbian republic and its two autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina over the alleged persecution of Serbs by Albanian extremists in Kosovo.
Kosova is about 90 percent ethnic Albanian and the hotbed of fierce nationalist tensions since bloody anti-Yugoslav riots by Albanian extremists in 1981.
Since then, about 30,000 Serbians and Montenegrins have left their homes in Kosovo reportedly under pressure from Albanian separatists and settled in other parts of Yugoslavia, according to government sources. Since the end of World War II, the sources said about 100,000 Serbs and Montenegrins have moved out of Kosovo, about 190 miles south of Belgrade.
Thursday, the Yugoslavian government deployed hundreds of special federal police offcers in all 22 major towns of Kosovo to assist local police in keeping peace and order.
But about 70,000 demonstrators in the Serbian town of Titovo Uzice, 100 miles south of Belgrade, Friday protested inefficiency by the authorities in resolving the Kosovo issue.
In Pristina, about 2,000 Serbian and Montenegrin schoolchildren, between 11 and 19 years old, boycotted classes Thursday saying they felt insecurity, uncertainty and fear from the Albanian extremists.
There has been a number of harassment incidents of Serbs and Montenegrins by ethnic Albanians, including molesting of women and stoning of villagers and their homes, during the past two months.
The number of student demonstrators swelled to about 10,000 Friday, and they marched through Marshal Tito Street in downtown Pristina chanting 'We Want Freedom' and gathered in front of the Youth House, witnesses told United Press International in telephone interviews.
Tomislav Novicic criticized his Albanian student colleagues for not joining the demonstrations in condemning Albanian separatists, and asked Yugoslav leaders to resign and make place for 'younger and capable leaders who advocate love among nations.'
A speaker addressing the Youth House rally said the young Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo demand 'safe movement and complete freedom which are endangered by Albanian separatists.'
Pristina Mayor Bozidar Lazic addressed the rally in a fruitless effort to get the students back from the streets and into classrooms.
The daily Oslobodjenje, meanwhile, reported from the central city of Sarajevo that a military court this month sentenced four ethnic Albanian soldiers to jail terms ranging from five to nine years for plotting to kill guards at a military storehouse and steal and hide weapons. The four planned to use the weapons upon the release from their compulsory 12-month military service in a rebellion to 'liberate' Kosovo province from Serbs, Oslobodjenje said.
Albania expressed its concern about growing protests by Yugoslavia's Serbian population over alleged persecution by ethnic Albanians in the adjoining province of Kosovo.
'There are being aroused bitter chauvinist passions which attack and stain everything Albanian,' the official Albanian Telegraph Agency said in a dispatch monitored in Warsaw.