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KOSOVO: MURDER OF SERBIAN YOUTH TRIGGERS BELGRADE PROTESTS

The murder of a Serbian youth in southern Kosovo province, whose majority ethnic Albanians demand independence, has triggered protests and concern in Belgrade, which opposes region's independence.

Miljan Veskovic (23) was gunned down near the town of Zvecan in Kosovo Wednesday night - a killing that adds to the toll of some 3.000 Serbs killed or listed as missing since the province was put under United Nations control in 1999.

Serbian president Boris Tadic called UN chief representative in Kosovo Soren Jessen Petersen on Thursday, demanding a quick investigation and punishment of the culprits.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has blamed the international community for not having resolved any of the earlier ethnically motivated crimes, saying he hasn't seen anyone in Pristina, Kosovo capital, nor in Vienna, where the talks on the Kosovo status have been held recently, to show "any concern over the committed crimes".

The Serbian government's coordinator for Kosovo, Sanda Raskovic Ivic, has submitted a report to the government, showing that since the talks on Kosovo's final status started last October 24, 186 ethnically motivated incidents against Serbs have taken place, including two murders and 20 serious injuries.

She expressed concern "what would happen when the international community leaves Kosovo", saying that local, ethnic Albanian police, wasn't doing its job.

Andreja Mladenovic, spokesman for Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, said that Veskovic murder was "another ethnically motivated crime", which shouldn't pass unpunished. He recalled that only a week ago, Petersen claimed "that Serbs attributed ethnic connotation to the crimes, even when there was none".

He appealed at UN representatives and international forces in Kosovo to "stop appeasing ethnic Albanian extremists and their crimes". Several other political parties reacted in a similar manner.

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