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Pro-Serbian protesters: 'Shame on Bush'

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  • NEW: "Shame on Bush!" members of the Kosovo Relief Committee chanted
  • U.S. ambassador to Serbia calls for better protection after embassy attacked
  • Serbian protesters attacked U.S. embassy in Belgrade on Thursday
  • Serbian authorities say 200 people were arrested
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Hundreds of pro-Serbian activists gathered Sunday outside the White House to decry Kosovo's secession from Serbia this month and to demand the Bush administration retract its recognition of Kosovo as an independent country.

"Shame on Bush!" chanted members of the Kosovo Relief Committee and the group Stop Terrorizing Orthodox People, who marched with Serbian flags and signs that read: "Kosovo: A Threat, Not a Country."

Rally organizers charged the Bush administration ignored international law by recognizing Kosovo's secession and warned separatist movements in other countries would attempt to declare independence themselves.

As they marched, Serbians said they were hopeful the region they consider to be the cradle of their civilization would be repatriated.

"We hope to change Kosovo to be Serbian again, like it was before and always will be," said Milan Dimic, a former resident of Belgrade. "It's Serbia."

On Thursday, Serbian protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, sparking swift condemnation from Washington and the evacuation of many Americans from the country.

"It is unfortunate that a group of hooligans has captured headlines with their senseless violence," said Nebojsa Malic, a blogger who helped organize the Washington rally.

"Hundreds of thousands of people protested peacefully, and a handful of hooligans did what they did and got themselves on camera, and we believe that's unfortunate."

Also on Sunday, the U.S. ambassador to Serbia called on the country's leaders to do more to protect foreign diplomatic missions.

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"I'm very angry at what happened," Ambassador Cameron Munter said of the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. Protesters smashed windows and set fire to part of the building, The Associated Press reported. "It had better not happen again," said Munter.

The U.S. Embassy has evacuated all of its nonessential personnel and their families from Belgrade, embassy spokesman Bill Wanlund told CNN.

"The response on Thursday was clearly insufficient, not just to our embassy, but to the embassies of other countries," said Wanlund.

Demonstrators also managed to break into one U.S. Embassy building, which Wanlund said was rarely used by staff. He said the protesters did not get any documents or embassy materials.

One protester died, his burned body found in the U.S. embassy complex. No embassy staff members were wounded.

In addition to the U.S. Embassy, protesters attacked other Western interests including the embassies of Britain and Germany, as well as a McDonald's restaurant and Nike shop.

Western powers condemned the violence.

Along with the United States, the U.K. and Germany were quick to recognize Kosovo's independence, which it officially declared on February 17.

Wanlund described the damage as "significant," and said "we're in the process of resecuring our embassy." He said he expects the evacuated staff to return "in a week or two."

On Saturday, Serbian authorities said they had arrested nearly 200 rioters who took part in the violence.

"We are collecting evidence and are identifying the culprits," Slobodan Radovanovic said in a statement, according to AP.

Serbia's minister Slobodan Samardzic said Saturday that the United States -- which backed Kosovo's breakaway and was among the first countries to recognize its secession -- was the "main culprit" for the violence, AP reported.

Meanwhile, up to 1,000 Serbian protesters gathered Sunday in the ethnically divided northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica as protests continued one week since Kosovo's break from Belgrade, AP said.


U.N. police in riot gear had formed a cordon across the main bridge separating the tense town's Serb and ethnic Albanian sides.

Serbs also staged anti-independence rallies on Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland, Vienna, Austria, and other European capitals. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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