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Sunday, August 1, 1999 Published at 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK


World: Europe

Church bomb shakes Serbs

A controlled explosion was carried out by Nato troops

A bomb blast at the main Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, has sent shockwaves reverberating throughout the Serbian community.

Kosovo: Special Report
The explosion at Sveti Spasa on Saturday night damaged a doorway to the church. A second device was found later on and destroyed.

No-one was hurt in the incident, but the Serbian community says it is part of a systematic attempt to remove them from Kosovo.


Father Sava: "We are very worried by this incident"
"Albanian extremists are organising a systematic campaign of destruction of Othodox churches, with the intention of blotting out all traces of Serbian existence in Kosovo," said Serbian Orthodox preist Father Sava.

'Stop the cycle of revenge'

The UN administrator in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, condemned the attack, calling on the Kosovo Albanians not to exercise the spirit of revenge.

There have been a string of such appeals from senior figures in recent days, with both the American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair warning the Kosovo Albanians that the outside world will not tolerate the continuation of ethnic violence.

But BBC correspondent Paul Wood in Pristina says Serbs remain scared, and the bomb blast at Sveti Spasa will do nothing to increase their confidence that Nato can guarantee their security.

The blast was heard throughout the city, setting off car alarms and sending a large cloud of smoke and dust into the air.

A K-For spokesman said an unidentified attacker had thrown a grenade at the church causing some damage to the unfinished building.

The Sveti Spasa church was under construction and had not yet opened.

Despite the presence of 35,000 peacekeeping troops, violence has continued in the province.

Last month, 14 Serb farmers were murdered in the village of Gracko.

But Nato says that overall the murder rate in Kosovo is dropping.



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