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Kosovo Calming Down After Extra Troops Deployed

Kosovo Situation Calming Down After Extra Troops Deployed, Says Un Mission

The deployment of extra international troops has helped to calm the situation in Kosovo after the recent deadly violence, but there are still reports of looting and unrest, the United Nations mission to the province reported today.

Additional troops from the United Kingdom, the United States and France have joined KFOR (the Kosovo international security force) after clashes between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo this week have killed more than two dozen people and injured hundreds of others.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters today that "their presence is being felt," and their arrival has also been welcomed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees ( http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/+LwwBmeuhbiewxwwwwrwwwwwwwhFqnN0bItFqnDni5zFqnN0bIAFqnN0bIDzmxwwwwwww1FqnN0bI/opendoc.htm UNHCR) as it tries to help civilians in the area.

Mr. Eckhard said http://www.unmikonline.org/ UNMIK considers the situation in Kosovo to be "extremely volatile," but he added that while there have been reports of more clashes and continued looting, most have been on a smaller scale compared to the violence of earlier this week.

Six more churches were destroyed yesterday, taking the total in the past two days to at least 16, while at least 110 houses of Serbs have been burned.

UN Police report that at least 28 people died in the clashes, the worst violence since the UN assumed administration of the province almost five years ago. Hundreds of others, including 55 KFOR soldiers, have been injured.

UNHCR is attempting to deliver aid to more than 1,000 members of ethnic minorities - mostly Serbs - who were evacuated from the Pristina, Gnjilane and Pec/Peja areas by KFOR soldiers. But access is now severely restricted because of security concerns.

The Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, Kamel Morjane, who was in Belgrade yesterday on a previously planned mission, had to cancel a planned trip to Kosovo today because of security concerns.

In Serbia, the agency has made contingency plans to receive possible arrivals from Kosovo, while the High Commissioner for Refugees has appealed to the region's ethnic communities to refrain from further violence

Meanwhile, Harri Holkeri, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, is talking to politicians in Pristina and in Belgrade to urge them to play their part in calming tensions.

Late yesterday the Security Council issued a presidential statement denouncing the violence and calling on authorities to ensure that the rule of law is maintained and the perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice.

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