The latest unrest began on 15 March 2004 with the drive-by shooting of an 18-year-old Serb, Jovica Ivić, in the village of Čaglavica
in the central region of Kosovo. Local Serbs from the village staged demonstrations and blocked traffic in protest at the shooting.
On 16 March, three Albanian children drowned in the Ibar River in the village of Čabar, near the Serb community of Zubin Potok
. A fourth boy survived. It was speculated that he and his friends had been chased into the river by Serbs in revenge for the shooting of Ivić the previous day. The truth behind this incident is completely different. It is now confirmed that a fourth boy was indoctrinated by his parents.[citation needed
The following day thousands of Kosovo Albanians, protesting against the boys' deaths, gathered at the south end of the bridge across the Ibar at Kosovska Mitrovica
, which divides the Serbian and Albanian districts of the town. A large crowd of Serbs gathered at the north end to prevent the Albanians from crossing. Peacekeepers from the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) blockaded the bridge, using tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to keep the crowds apart. However, gunmen on both sides opened fire with submachine guns and grenades, killing at least eight people (six Albanians and two Serbs) and wounding over 300. Eleven peacekeepers were also injured, of which two seriously.
The violence continued on 18 March with further demonstrations in many localities across Kosovo, notably at Čaglavica again and also in Kosovska Mitrovica, Lipljan
. The casualty toll at the end of the day was 28 and 600 people were injured, including 61 peacekeepers and 55 police officers. U.N. spokeswoman Isabella Karlowitz said 110 houses and 16 churches were destroyed. She also reported that around 3,600 people had been made homeless by the violence, including but not limited to Serbs, Roma
, and Ashkali
 Attacks on Kosovo Serbs
Remains of Serbian Orthodox Church of Holy Salvation from XIV century, destroyed in March 2004.
The violence quickly spread to other parts of Kosovo, with Kosovo Serb communities and religious and cultural symbols attacked by crowds of Albanians. Some of these locations were ostensibly under the protection of KFOR at the time. During the riots and violence, eight Kosovo Serbians were killed.
The sites of violence included[citation needed
- Belo Polje - Serb returnees attacked
- Čaglavica - 11 Serb houses set on fire,5 Serbs killed. 17 Swedish soldiers wounded.
- Kosovo Polje - Serb houses and a hospital set on fire;
- Lipljan - gunfights between KFOR and Albanians,4 Serbs killed, remaining Serbs took refugee in Orthodox Church which was attacked;
- Peć - rioting in which UN offices were attacked; one Albanian killed by UN police.
- Pristina - all remaining Serbs evacuated or forced out
- Gnjilane - all remaining Serbs evacuated or forced out
- Cernica, Serb village near Gnjilane - 3 Serbs killed
- Svinjare, Serb village near Kosovska Mitrovica - 4 Serbs killed
- Obilić - Serb houses burnt, all Serbs chased out
- Vitina - Attack on church prevented by US Army KFOR troops, Orthodox priest injured, demonstrators threw rocks at US Army soldiers and set fire to many Serb homes
- Drajkovce, village near Štrpce - 2 Serbs killed
- Grabac - Serbian village, most Serbians evacuated by Italian peacekeepers to Osojane Serbian village, some parts of Grabac attacked.