Elderly Serb couple badly beaten in apparent ax attack in Kosovo

An elderly Serb couple were repeatedly stabbed and beaten with blunt objects Monday, officials said, in an attack that threatened to further inflame tensions between Kosovo's Serb minority and ethnic Albanian majority.

Nedeljko and Nevenka Vucic, 71 and 73, were attacked outside their home in the village of Crkolez, some 50 kilometers northwest of province's capital Pristina, said Aleksandar Bozovic, the doctor at the hospital in Serb-dominated Kosovska Mitrovica, where they were treated.

U.N. police spokesman Larry Miller also confirmed the attack.

The woman's injuries were life threatening and the condition of the man - who was undergoing surgery - was not immediately clear, Bozovic said.

Photos of the badly beaten couple were aired in Serbia's national television.

"Their injuries were inflicted with a sharp object, most probably a knife or an ax," Bozovic said. He said they were also beaten with a "blunt object" on their arms and legs.

The man suffered from concussions, was stabbed around his spine, had his ribs broken and his right ear cut off, Bozovic said. The woman suffered head injuries, concussions and chest fractures, Bozovic added.

The couple lived with another 160 Serbs in the village of Crkolez, which is surrounded by ethnic Albanian villages.

Tensions remain high between ethnic Albanian majority and the remaining Serb minority in the province. The community has been often a target of attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists seeking revenge for the wartime killings by Serb forces.

The province has been administered by the United Nations since mid-1999. International officials have been trying to reconcile the two former foes as part of the deal to move the province to status talks possibly as early as this fall.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence, while Serbs want it to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro.

Associated Press

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