Ethnic Albanians opened fire today on British peacekeepers who were trying to prevent another revenge attack on Serbs, while elsewhere in Kosovo, hundreds of ethnic Albanians protested the presence of Russian troops.
The British troops detained seven men following a car chase and a shootout with ethnic Albanians in a Serbian area just north of Pristina, the provincial capital, said British Lt. Col. Robin Hodges. Two of the seven were wounded by British fire, and one who escaped also was believed to be wounded, Hodges said. The troops were patrolling an area where Serbs had been threatened and told to leave, Hodges said.
Human rights investigators say about 10,000 ethnic Albanians died in the Serbian crackdown during the 78-day NATO bombing of Yugoslavia this past spring. Now, however, Serb-instigated violence is increasingly being replaced by acts of revenge by ethnic Albanians against Kosovo's remaining Serbs.
Western officials have condemned the ethnic Albanians' violent recriminations, calling them a repetition of Serbian brutality that ended in June, when NATO peacekeeping troops entered Kosovo and Serb-led Yugoslav forces withdrew.
About 2,000 ethnic Albanians in the town of Kosovska Kamenica demonstrated today, demanding that Russian peacekeepers be sent home. The protest ended without incident, but underscored ethnic Albanians' deep suspicions of Russia, a longtime Yugoslav ally that they accuse of being sympathetic to Serbs.
On Wednesday, ethnic Albanian protesters scuffled with Russian and U.S. troops in an anti-Russian demonstration in the southeastern village of Dobrcane. Ethnic Albanians also have repeatedly clashed with French troops in the divided northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica.
In the southwestern Kosovo town of Velika Krusa, meanwhile, several hundred mourners wept as 75 coffins were lowered into two rows of fresh graves. It was the largest reburial so far of ethnic Albanians killed by Serbian forces in Belgrade's yearlong crackdown on the Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population.
The 75 victims were killed in a March 27 massacre, one of those cited in the U.N. tribunal's indictment charging Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic with war crimes.
The Reuters news service reported from Belgrade:
Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, facing a wave of anti-government demonstrations across the country, shuffled his cabinet today by bringing in ultra-nationalists and trusted hardliners.
In a move seen as a bid by Milosevic to shore up his power base, the premier sacked seven ministers, brought in 12 new ones, including five members of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party, and created two new positions.
The new 27-member cabinet is dominated by Milosevic's Socialist Party, the Radicals headed by Vojislav Seselj and the Yugoslav Left party of Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic.
The previous government included four members of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, but they quit the cabinet earlier this year after Draskovic was removed as deputy premier for appearing to question Milosevic's Kosovo policy.
Draskovic's party turned down an invitation to join a new national unity government, opting instead to work with other opposition parties and the Serbian Orthodox Church to create a transitional administration of experts who would prepare new elections and democratic and economic reforms.