U.S. Embassy in Belgrade Attacked

By Matthew Harwood

Rioters protesting Kosovar independence stormed the U.S. Embassy in the Serbian capital of Belgrade today and set the building on fire, according to various news reports.

According to The New York Times:

Tens of thousands of Serbs, incensed by Kosovo’s declaration of independence, which Serbia says was a blatant breach of international law, had converged on Belgrade for the mass rally.

The organizers had said they expected 500,000 people to attend the protests, and there had been cross-party calls for the rally to be peaceful.

The Washington Post reports that masked intruders broke into the embassy—closed to the public this week after the U.S. recognized Kosovo's independence —and set the building alight. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze, while authorities responded in armored jeeps and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Fleeing into side streets, the rioters continued to clash with the authorities.

Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared its independence four days ago to the delight of its majority ethnic Albanian population. The Albanians suffered greatly during the late 1990s under a Serbian military campaign to purge them from Kosovo in hope of creating a greater Serbia. In 1999, NATO launched an aerial offensive against Serbian forces in Kosovo and Belgrade, forcing their withdrawal. Since then, Kosovo has been under a United Nations protectorate.

UPDATE: reports a burned body has been found in the U.S. Embassy:

One charred body was found in the U.S. Embassy compound, embassy spokesman in Belgrade William Wanlund said. The only Americans at the embassy during the violence were Marines, who are all said to be accounted for.


Belgrade demos

Being on the ground in Serbia and as an American living and working here, I have followed the situation very close.

What most articles that I have read fail to state is that while there were approx 600 people that began to become violent, there were also approx 150,000 that remained very peaceful. Most of the descriptions that I have read or seen on TV do depict a true picture of the situation. Even though as a Security Professional I set the situation as unstable, I do not see it as critical.

Serbia is still worth the investment especially in the cities of Novi Sad and Indjia (which is now on place 1, according to the Financial times).

Companies with personnel on the ground or wishing to invest in the area should however conduct very detailed "Due Diligence Checks on ALL Personnel."

Dale W. Kneeland, Sr.
KNEELAND CONSULTING d.o.o. International

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