Blast Destroys Serb Church in Kosovo

The Associated Press
Saturday, Jan. 15, 2000; 6:47 a.m. EST

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- An explosive destroyed half of a Serb Orthodox church in southeastern Kosovo early Saturday, the independent Beta news agency reported.

The explosion that ripped through the St. Elias church, built in 1912 in the
ethnically mixed village of Cernica, 20 miles southeast of the province's capital Pristina, also damaged three houses owned by local Serbs and heightened tensions in the part of Kosovo patrolled by U.S. members of the NATO-led peacekeeping force.

Nobody was hurt in the village, shared by some 450 Serbs and about 3,000 ethnic Albanians.

Serbs and the Orthodox Church have repeatedly blamed Kosovo Albanians for the destruction of more than 50 Serb churches since Serb forces pulled out of the province last summer at the end of NATO bombing, and the NATO-led
peacekeepers moved in.

Ethnic Albanians have targeted Serbs in revenge for the Serb-led Yugoslav
government's bloody crackdown in the province.

© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press