Two participants in rally against UN Kosovo plan die of injures

Two protesters injured in violent clashes with police in Kosovo died of their wounds, U.N. police said Sunday, cited by AP. Saturday's protests against the U.N. plan for Kosovo turned violent, and riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of ethnic Albanians who broke through a security cordon and marched toward a government building.

Kosovo's top leaders gathered for an emergency meeting and the province's Prime Minister Agim Ceku canceled a planned visit to China.

"It is totally regrettable that two lives were lost as a result of wanton breach of security at the government buildings," said U.N. police commissioner Stephen Curtis, adding police were compelled "to take defensive measures to restore order.

Curtis also said that he had invited Kosovo's police inspectorate "to maintain an independent overview of the investigation into the deaths to ensure transparency".

Authorities reported that four people were seriously injured in the clashes, which took place in Kosovo's provincial capital, Pristina. About 70 protesters sought medical assistance, mainly for the effects of tear gas.

The crowds were protesting the U.N. plan on Kosovo's future status, which they say does not go far enough. Kosovo's ethnic Albanians demand full independence, while the U.N. plan calls for internationally supervised self-rule.

[Source: Focus News Agency by AP, Bulgaria, 11Feb07]

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