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A Serbian Orthodox Holy Trinity church in Petrić destroyed during the war.

Persecution of non-Albanians, mostly Serbs, by Kosovo Albanian groups occurred during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo War.[1][2][3]

Serbs claim the persecution amounts to ethnic cleansing. The KLA was responsible for serious abuses in 1998 and after the NATO troops arrival in Kosovo, including abductions and murders of Serbs and other non-Albanians, as well as ethnic Albanians considered collaborators with the state.[4]

The United Nations Special Representative for Kosovo and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Lamberto Zannier, has warned that a lack of reconciliation between the communities in Kosovo, coupled with economic difficulties, posed a "risk of social unrest".[5]

Timeline of attacks


The KLA detained an estimated eighty-five Serbs during its July 19, 1998, attack on Orahovac. Thirty-five of these people were subsequently released but the others remain. On July 22, 1998, the KLA briefly took control of the Belacevac mine near Obilic. Nine Serbs were captured that day, and they remain on the ICRC's list of the missing.[4]

In August 1998, twenty-two Serbian civilians were reportedly killed in the village of Klečka, where the police claimed to have discovered human remains and a kiln used to cremate the bodies.[4][6]

In September 1998, the Serbian police collected thirty-four bodies of people believed to have been seized and murdered by the KLA, among them some ethnic Albanians, at Lake Radonjic near Glodjane (Gllogjan).[4]


Carla Del Ponte, a long-time ICTY chief prosecutor claimed in her book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals that there were instances of organ trafficking in 1999. According to the book about 300 non-Albanians, mostly ethnic Serbs, were kidnapped and transferred to Albania in 1999 where their organs were extracted.[7] These allegations were denied by Kosovan and Albanian authorities. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had said of Del Ponte's allegations: "The Tribunal is aware of very serious allegations of human organ trafficking raised by the former Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, in a book recently published in Italian under her name. No evidence in support of such allegations was ever brought before the Tribunal's judges."[8]

The Human Rights Watch called Del Ponte's allegations "serious and credible" and issued a public call to Tirana and Pristina for cooperation.[9]

A Serbian newspaper, Večernje Novosti, published photos in 2003 of men in Kosovo Liberation Army uniforms holding decapitated heads. According to the paper, the crimes were committed in April 1999, during the Kosovo War.[10][11]

The notorious Gnjilane Group was active in Gnjilane, committing brutal crimes and murders against ethnic Serbs during June-Octobre 1999, after the KFOR had arrived.

The Kosovo organ theft/trafficking or Serbian Organ Harvesting is an atrocity of systematic organ theft and killing of at least 300 ethnic Serbs during and after the Kosovo War in 1999, committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army.[12][13] This is not related to the previous case of Croats extracted organs from Serbian victims.[13][14]


On February 16, 2001, a bus carrying Serb civilians on a "commemoration mission" to family graves in Albanian-controlled territory was destroyed by a roadside bomb at a spot near Podujevo, en route to Gračanica, killing 12. It was one in a convoy of five buses carrying 250 people from the city of Niš, escorted by armoured personnel carriers from the Swedish contingent of the KFOR peacekeeping force. According to KFOR's regional commander, the bomb comprised between 100-200 lb of high explosive, detonated using a command wire.[15] (see Podujevo bus bombing)

On April 30, 2001, an 18-year-old was shot twice and killed whilst walking with his sister and a friend in the Vitina market place. He was killed simply because he was a Serb.[16]


On August 13, 2003 two youths from the minority Serb community in Kosovo were killed in an attack by unknown gunmen. Six other people were injured in the attack, which took place as they were swimming in a river near the western village of Goraždevac. The attackers were waiting for the swimmers and opened fire with Kalashnikov assault rifles from the bushes. The dead and injured youths were aged between 10 and 20.[17]


File:Podujevo srusena crkva.JPG

Destroyed Saint Elijah Church in Podujevo.

In March 2004, Kosovo experienced its worst inter-ethnic violence since the Kosovo War. The unrest in 2004 was sparked by a series of minor events that soon cascaded into large-scale riots. During the protests Kosovo Albanian groups burned hundreds of Serbian houses, Serbian Orthodox Church sites (including some 150-300 medieval churches and monasteries) and UN facilities.


The 2008 unrest in Kosovo follows Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence on February 17, 2008.
The day after Kosovo's declaration of independence two bombs in the flashpoint town of Kosovska Mitrovica damaged several UN vehicles, though there were no injuries.[18] After several attacks in northern Kosovska Mitrovica an advance team of the EU administrative force withdrew over security concerns.[19] On March 3, 2008, a sniper fired two bullets at a UN office in the northern half of Kosovska Mitrovica without any injuries reported.[20]
On March 28, 2008, a police checkpoint manned by Serb officers came under fire in northern Kosovo apparently from a semi-automatic weapon fired from the ethnic Albanian village of Košutovo, north of the town of Kosovska Mitrovica and the officers returned fire. No injuries were reported.[21]


Several Serbian cultural and religious sites have been vandalized in 2010. Including:

  • The desecration of some 20 Orthodox cemetery gravestones in the predominantly Kosovo Serb village of Laplje Selo[22] near Pristina and the nearby village of Lismir in Kosovo Polje.[23] Six 19th century Montenegrin Orthodox gravestones in the zone have been partially damaged.[24]
  • The Orthodox church vandalism in Perkovac in Gornji Strmac village, near Zubin Potok.[25] On 9 March, the Kosovo Police announced that they had opened an investigation.[23]
  • The Orthodox church vandalism in Rabovce near Liljan.[26] The KFOR later condemned this incident.[27]
  • The desecration of the grave of Živka Jovanović in Gnjilane,[28] which was condemned by the OSCE and the Kosovo government.[29][30]
  • The ruins of Buzovik monastery in Vitina municipality, included in the list of special protective zones, continue to be used as a dump for waste.[23]

Other incidents include:

  • The detainment of two journalists from a local Serbian newspaper and radio.[31]
  • The attack of Ljubiša Šćepanović near Žač, Istok by three Albanian men.[32][unreliable source?] Perpetrator of this incident is arrested.[33][unreliable source?]
  • The death of Dragan Denić near village Srbovac.[34]
  • The attack on Bojan Pešić attacked near Paralovo by two Albanian men.[35]
  • The looting of six Serbian houses in Gojbulja.[36][unreliable source?]
  • The abduction, beating, and car theft of Ivica Živić by four Albanian men near Gračanica.[37]
  • Following three days of protests by Albanians who oppose return of Serbs in their village stones thrown at tents of Serbian returnees (refugees) near village Žač in Metohija.[37]

See also


  3. In the Aftermath: Continued Persecution of Roma, Ashkalis, Egyptians and Others Perceived as “Gypsies” in Kosovo
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 UNDER ORDERS: War Crimes in Kosovo - 1. Executive Summary
  6. The Guardian, Kosovo, drugs and the West, 14.04.1999
  7. The Daily Telegraph, Serb prisoners 'were stripped of their organs in Kosovo war', 2008-04-14
  8. ICTY Weekly Press Briefing
  9. BBC, Kosovo 'organs sale' probe urged, 06.05.2008
  12. Cover-up on Serbian Organ case
  13. 13.0 13.1 B92 2008.11.06
  14. Julia Gorin 1527
  15. "Ruthless murder of Serbs on road to family graves", The Birmingham Post, 17 February 2001
  16. Focus Kosovo - Law, Justice and Public Safety
  17. "Two Serbs die in Kosovo attack". BBC News. 2003-08-13.
  18. "Serb mob destroys Kosovo border posts". Sydney Morning Herald. 2008-02-20. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  19. "Serbs bid for Bosnia-style division in Kosovo". Reuters. 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  20. "Shots Fired At North Kosovo UN Office". Balkan Insight. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-03-03.[dead link]
  21. "Shots fired at Kosovo Serb police in tense north". Reuters. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (6 April 2010). "Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo". Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  37. 37.0 37.1
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