Thousands of ethnic Albanians angered by the loss of...


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Thousands of ethnic Albanians angered by the loss of local autonomy rioted for a fifth successive day throughout Kosovo Province Monday, killing two police officials and wounding four other people in the worst outbreak of violence in eight years.

Two of the wounded also were police officials.


Kosovo authorities banned public gatherings and clamped a curfew on towns in the province in attempts to to quell the rioting.

About 10,000 ethnic Albanians rioted in Podujevo, chanting, 'We do not give up the Constitution,' a Belgrade radio journalist reported from Kosovo's provincial capital of Pristina. Riot police sealed off the small town.

In the midst of the violence, Serbian leaders in the national capital of Belgrade planned to celebrate the amendments to the 1974 Serbian constitution that gave Serbia more control over Kosovo, touching off the bloody riots Thursday.

Kosovo, situated about 190 miles south of Belgrade, is one of two autonomous provinces in Serbia and is dominated by ethnic Albanians. The Serbs are a minority in Kosovo, which borders Albania and long has been a trouble spot for both the Serbian and federal Yugoslav authorities.


The rioting flared Thursday when ethnic Albanians sought to dramatize fears that the constitutional amendments giving up some of Kosovo's autonomy to Serbia may diminish their rights.

The violence took a turn for the worse Monday when rioters, most of them young men, fired at police, killing two police officers and wounding four other people, two of them police, Yugoslav news reports from Pristina said. They marked the first casualties of the rioting.

The violence in Kosovo has been the worst in the backwater province since 1981, when 10 people were killed and other 250 wounded.

Rioters rampaged through the streets of Kosovo towns, overturning automobiles, breaking windows and damaging buildings. Some hurled stones at police.

Police fought back with tear gas canisters fired from armored personnel carriers and police helicopters and blasted the rioters with water cannons. Yugoslav journalists reported hearing pistol, rifle and automatic weapons fire from the side of demonstrators.

On several occasions, rioters assaulted journalists but no reporter was hurt seriously. A camera was broken.

Interior Minister Jusuf Karakusi, acting on orders of the provincial government, imposed a partial curfew on cities and towns to control the violence.

Karakusi, an ethnic Albanian, banned or limited public gatherings or movement by three or more persons and ordered closed all schools, universities, theaters and all other public performances.


In Pristina, at least 1,000 young ethnic Albanians stoned police in front of the provincial government building and police chased them with clubs and fired tear gas.

Yugoslav air force jets and army helicopters streaked over towns in Kosovo, but their presence apparently had little deterrent value.

Jetulah Kuci, 39, a police station chief in Podujevo and an ethnic Albanian, was shot and killed as he got out of a police car. Among those wounded were police inspector Zoran Korac, 24, an unidentified police official, a woman and an ethnic Albanian who identified himself as Bejtus Citaku.

'I was standing by watching clashes between protesters and police when I felt something very hot in my chest,' Citaku said after arriving in a Pristina hospital. 'I felt blood under my hand and only then I realized I was shot.'

A second policeman, Milorad Tanaskovic, was killed in Titova Mitrovica in clashed with protesters.

A Yugoslav journalist in Podujevo said ethnic Albanians helped protesters by throwing wet towels from their windows and balconies down to demonstrators as protection against tear gas fumes.

In the Kosovo province towns of Lipljan, Srbica, Pec, and Urosevac, ethnic Albanian students boycotted classes, workers staged sit-ins at factories and attempted to demonstrate in the streets, according to reports from the Kosovo province capital of Pristina.


Urosevac, south of Pristina, was the site of violent demonstrations by up to 6,000 ethnic Albanians in the past five days since the Kosovo provincial parliament, mostly composed of ethnic Albanians, in Pristina Thursday approved amendments to the 1974 Serbian Constitution. The autonomous Kosovo province is part of Serbia, one of Yugoslavia's six republics.

The amendments turn over control of Kosovo's police, courts, defense and cooperation with foreign countries to Serbia state from the Kosovo provincial administration.

Ethnic Albanians oppose the ruling because they fear it will diminish their rights in Kosovo, where 1.8 million ethnic Albanians outnumber 200,000 Serbs.

In Urosevac, 174 ethnic Albanian protesters have been arrested in the five days of rioting, police said. About 80 have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from 10 days to 60 days.

Police said 14 police officers have been wounded, two of them seriously in clashes with protesters in Urosevac.

Latest Headlines


Follow Us