KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Ethnic tensions soared in northern Kosovo on Tuesday after a Serb teenager was stabbed and seriously injured, allegedly by a group of ethnic Albanian youths, witnesses and officials said.
A few hundred Serbs took to the streets of the ethnically divided town after hearing that the 19-year-old, identified as Milosav Ilincic, was attacked in the mostly Serb-populated part of the town by a group of young men from the southern, ethnic Albanian part of Kosovska Mitrovica.
Kosovo's chief U.N. official Soren Jessen-Petersen condemned the stabbing and asked police to launch an investigation, a U.N. statement said.
"I deeply regret and am shocked to learn about this deplorable incident," he added, urging restraint.
Police spokesman Sami Mehmeti confirmed a teenager was stabbed, but did not provide the ethnicity of the victim or the circumstances of the attack. He said 200 demonstrators were protesting.
Kosovo Serb leader Milan Ivanovic said Ilincic was attacked while standing with his girlfriend near a bridge over the Ibar river that separates the mostly Serb northern part of town from the ethnic Albanian south.
Ilincic was rushed to a hospital where officials, who declined to be immediately identified, said he was admitted with three deep stab wounds and was undergoing surgery for a ruptured liver and two head injuries.
Kosovska Mitrovica, 45 kilometers (30 miles) north of the province's capital, Pristina, has been ethnically divided since the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. Kosovo is now a U.N. protectorate.
The critical bridge between the two communities in Kosovska Mitrovica had been guarded by NATO peacekeepers and members of the U.N. police until last summer, when it was reopened for traffic.
After the incident, however, the bridge was closed again to civilian use until further notice, Mehmeti said.
Ivanovic claimed that ethnic Albanian members of the Kosovo Police Service were near the scene of the incident when the alleged stabbing occurred, but failed to intervene and possibly even encouraged the attackers to run back to the ethnic Albanian part of town.
Also Tuesday, U.N. envoy Albert Rohan, mediating in ongoing talks on Kosovo's future, met with Kosovo's pro-independence ethnic Albanian leaders in Pristina. He is expected to visit the northern, mostly Serb-populated area on Wednesday.