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Deported Roma girl, family attacked in Kosovo

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Unidentified assailants on Sunday attacked a Roma schoolgirl, whose deportation from France sparked controversy, along with her family in Kosovo where they have been living since their eviction, police said.

"The Dibrani (family) were walking in Mitrovica with their children when they were attacked by unknown" people, a police officer, who requested to remain anonymous, told AFP.

The mother of 15-year-old Leonarda, Xhemaili, was "beaten and is in hospital while the children, who are traumatised, are at a police station", the officer said.

Meanwhile, another police officer told reporters that four people were detained over the incident which, according to first findings, may have been caused by some previous private affairs.

"The incident occurred between two families, the Dibranis and the Bislimis," police captain Ahmet Gjosha said.

"It turned out that Mr Bislimi was Xhemaili Dibrani's husband 25 years ago and we assume that this fact sparked the incident."

The Beslimi family was repatriated from Switzerland four months ago, he said.

Police said they were taking the incident very seriously and a probe was launched.

Shortly after the incident a police officer had told AFP that "it shows that the Dibranis are not safe here".

Leonarda's father Resat Dibrani, 47, was at the hospital by his wife's side.

On Saturday, French President Francois Hollande offered Leonarda the chance to go back to France, but without her family.

Hollande's offer was immediately rejected by the girl while her father said that the family, deported on October 9, would not be divided and would return to France by any means.

Her parents and five brothers and sisters had lived in France for four years while their asylum bid was processed. It was eventually rejected in the summer.

Leonarda Dibrani's eviction caused an outcry in France because she was detained during a school trip before being deported with her family, and students took to the streets demanding she return and Interior Minister Manuel Valls resign.

In an interview with AFP Thursday, Resat Dibrani said he was born in Kosovo and that his wife and five of his six children, including Leonarda, were born in Italy.

He said he had lied about his family's Kosovo origins to have a better chance of obtaining asylum.

Earlier on Sunday, the father told AFP that his "children are afraid to go out".

"I cannot adapt myself, I left 35 years ago. I do not recognise the town any more," he said stressing that he had only 200 euros ($275) left to feed his family.

The father, who wants to return to France, said: "The problem is to get into (EU member) Croatia and afterwards the way is open."

"I would have to get 20,000 euros" for people who would take us into Croatia, he added.

The results of a formal probe published in France on Saturday found that the deportation was lawful but that police could have used better judgement in the way they handled it.

They also found that Leonarda and her sister were taken in by French social services after having accused their father of violence -- a claim they later retracted.

Last year, 36,822 immigrants, many of them Roma, were deported from France, a nearly 12 percent rise from 2011.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131020/deported-roma-girl-family-attacked-kosovo-0