Thursday, February 21, 2008

US Embassy attacked by Serb protesters

Thousands of Serbs have gathered on the streets of Belgrade to protest over Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Some reports estimate at least 150,000 people turned out to listen to speeches and express their anger over losing what it considers to be an important part of its territory [BBC]. PM Vojislav Kostunica told the cheering crowd that Kosovo would always belong to Serbia. Tensions still exist along the border of Kosovo where today some Serbian army reservists clashed with border guards, the BBC World Service reported [BBC / CNN]. As night set in, the situation back on the streets of Belgrade turned to violence with some protesters attacking the US Embassy. CNN quoted the Associated Press saying that parts of the Embassy had been set alight. According to the AP reports some demonstrators had also broken into the Embassy, which is currently closed, and threw chairs from a balcony. The Croatian Embassy was also attacked in the rioting. Alessio Vinci, CNN’s Rome Bureau Chief, said the violence was not representative of all Serbs and was likely to have been perpetrated by “thugs and football hooligans” who were “using the protests as an excuse for violence”. As some rioted, many thousands remained in the centre of the capital peacefully watching religious choral recitals.

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