Kosovska Mitrovica/Belgrade - Three United Nations police officers - two Americans and a Jordanian - were killed and 11 others wounded in a shootout amongst prison guards after a verbal dispute erupted over the Iraq crisis, United Nations officials said.
The dispute apparently occurred between the Americans and the Jordanian, who were serving in the UN Kosovo mission (UNMIK).
"A Jordanian policeman sprayed bullets at his US colleagues. Apparently, they were talking about Iraq and everything just went out of control," a United Nations official said.
Ten US officers and an Austrian policeman were wounded during the shooting. Three Americans were immediately flown to the US military base Bondstil in central Kosovo.
United Nations police arrested at least four Jordanian officers following the incident, but no other details were immediately available.
Eleven others were wounded in the shootout inside the Mitrovica prison, the United Nations' top official in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, said.
"I am deeply shocked and dismayed by the unfortunate death of dedicated professionals who have come such a great distance to help Kosovo on its road to the future," Holkeri said. "I convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased, to their UNMIK police contingents, and their home countries governments."
The UN Police Commissioner Stephen Feller, who visited the scene of the incident, said he was "saddened at this tragic incident".
He said there would be a "thorough investigation into the incident".
About 3 500 international police officers have been deployed to the troubled province of the rump Yugoslavia since the UN mission started in 1999. - Sapa-dpa