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Explosion kills one in flashpoint Kosovar city Mitrovica

An explosive device, detonated during a Serb protest in the city of Mitrovica, has killed one man, and wounded at least 10 people, according to the EU mission in the country.

The river Ibar in Mitrovica.

Mitrovica's Ibar river divides ethnic Serbs and Albanians

One person was killed and at least 10 more injured in an explosion in the divided city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo on Friday.

The Serbian state news agency Tanjug reports that a doctor, Mesud Dzekovic, died in hospital from wounds sustained in the blast. The same agency says 11 more people were wounded, although some initial reports suggested that number might be 10.

The explosion occurred close to a Serb protest against the opening of an administrative office, which the protesters think represents the Albanian majority in the country.

Local police officials estimate that some 600 people were taking part in the demonstration, in a city where there are frequent ethnic clashes between Albanians and Serbs.

Kosovo's Serb minority, financially supported by Belgrade, do not accept Kosovo's independence, after the once Serb region unilaterally declared its independence in 2008. 69 countries have recognized the region's independence, including the United States and 22 of the 27 EU member states, with Germany among them.

Serbs blame Albanians

Injured people are led away as UN peacekeepers step in to separate clashing ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Ethnic clashes are commonplace in Mitrovica

Serbs in northern Mitrovica say the perpetrator was an ethnic Albanian. Radenko Nekelijkovic, the Serb head of the Mitrovica region, said NATO and the EU were responsible for the incident, because they failed to secure the protest.

Serbian President Boris Tadic called an emergency session of the country's National Security Council to discuss tensions in the region.

"Serbia is once again facing huge challenges in Kosovo," Tadic said. "Our citizens in Kosovo were attacked."

Police say they believe the explosive device may have been a hand grenade.

Kosovo's president, Fatmir Sejdiu, condemned the attack and called on local investigators to bring those responsible to justice.

The Ibar river in Mitrovica divides the city between Albanians in the south and Serbs in the north, with northern residents still loyal to the Serb government in Belgrade.

The fragile peace in Kosovo is maintained by a 10,000-strong NATO force, along with European Union police and justice missions.

Author: Mark Hallam (AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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