One person killed by explosion in Kosovo capital

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PRISTINA, Serbia, Sep 24 (Reuters) One person was killed and seven injured by an explosion that tore through shops in the capital of Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province early today, a police source said.

A Reuters witness described hearing a loud explosion, which scattered glass and debris from a dozen shops across the broad pavement running down Bill Clinton Boulevard.

A police source, who asked not to be named, said one person had been killed and seven were being treated in hospital for injuries.

It was not known what caused the explosion, which comes amid rising tension within Kosovo's 90-per cent ethnic Albanian majority over its stalled bid for independence from Serbia.

The territory has been run by the United Nations and patrolled by NATO since 1999, when NATO bombs drove out Serbian forces to halt atrocities against ethnic Albanians in a two-year war between Belgrade's troops and separatist guerrillas.

Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are due to hold direct negotiations on the territory's fate at the United Nations in New York on Friday.

Pristina has seen small bomb attacks, rarely fatal, at times of political tension over the past three years as Albanian pressure for an end to their limbo status grows.

The West backs independence, but Serbia's ally Russia has blocked a plan for Kosovo's statehood at the UN Security Council, forcing more negotiations.

REUTERS AK PM7000

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