Serbs break into US Embassy, set fire

Angry Serbs broke into the U.S. Embassy and set fire to an office Thursday night as rioters rampaged through Belgrade's streets.

Serbs break into US Embassy, set fire

Angry Serbs broke into the U.S. Embassy and set fire to an office Thursday night as rioters rampaged through Belgrade's streets, putting an exclamation point of violence to a day of mass protest against Western support for an independent Kosovo.

At least 150,000 people rallied in Belgrade, waving Serbian flags and signs proclaiming "Stop USA terror," to denounce the bid by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority to create their own state.

The United States strongly criticized the violence and the Serb response. White House spokesman Dana Perino said the embassy "was attacked by thugs" and Serb police didn't do enough to stop it. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. warned Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic that it would hold them personally responsible for further damage.

Protesters burned American flags and the mob that attacked the embassy tore down the U.S. flag there. Crowds also ransacked a McDonald's, looted stores and fought with police in front of other diplomatic compounds in a display of the resentment seething in Serbia over the secession of what has been its southernmost province.

A charred body was found in the U.S. Embassy after the fire was put out, but all staff were accounted for, embassy spokeswoman Rian Harris said. Belgrade's Pink TV said the body appeared to be that of a rioter.

At the mass rally earlier, Kostunica attacked the U.S. and others for supporting Kosovo's independence. "Is there any other nation on Earth from whom (the great powers) are demanding that they give up their identity, to give up our brothers in Kosovo?" he told the crowd.

Coming after smaller outbursts of violence in Belgrade as well as attacks on a United Nations building and police checkpoints in Kosovo, the surge of rioting underlined the determination of Serbs not to give up Kosovo quietly.

The Serbian government has said it won't resort to military force, but the street violence could be a tactic to slow moves by more countries to follow the U.S., Britain, Germany and France in quickly recognizing Kosovo's independence.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Şubat 2008, 17:14
YORUM EKLE