Serbia's Vucic urges Kosovo Serbs to remain calm

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (C), is pictured arriving at the Banjska Monastery in northern Mitrovica

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic urged Kosovo Serbs on Saturday to remain calm after the murder of a prominent political leader that sparked fears of renewed tensions in the fragile region.

"Let us solve things peacefully," Vucic said during a visit to the northern part of the ethnically divided flashpoint town of Mitrovica, where moderate Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic was shot dead on Tuesday.

"It is better that I talk with (Kosovo President Hashim) Thaci... than a single bullet be fired," he said after meeting several dozen Kosovo Serbs, mostly local officials from the Serb party backed by his ruling coalition in Belgrade.

Ivanovic was shot dead by assailants firing from a car as he arrived at his party's headquarters in northern Mitrovica. His killers have not yet been identified.

The assassination raised fears that the already tense situation could worsen in northern Kosovo, which is mostly populated by a Serb minority.

Ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia 10 years ago, but Belgrade rejects the move and still considers the breakaway territory its southern province.

However, since the end of the 1998-1999 war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas that claimed 13,000 lives, Belgrade no longer has control in Kosovo.