updated 2/23/2008 7:31:34 AM ET 2008-02-23T12:31:34

Serbia's top state prosecutor said Saturday that authorities are hunting for participants in riots that targeted the U.S. and other embassies and Western commercial interests.

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

Police said they had arrested nearly 200 rioters Thursday night during the worst violence seen on Belgrade streets since the ouster of former strongman Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

Rioters protesting international recognition of Kosovo's independence torched several offices of the U.S. Embassy's consular section and attacked the missions of Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Croatia and other countries. One person died and more than 150 were injured in the violence, in which nearly 100 stores were looted.

On Friday, the U.S. State Department ordered nonessential embassy employees and families of American diplomats in Belgrade to leave Serbia.

"We are not sufficiently confident that they are safe here," U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter said in an interview.

'Ordered departure'
The decision to implement what is known as an "ordered departure" will affect some of the between 80 and 100 Americans who work at the embassy, but it was not clear how many family members would be affected.

Current plans call for them to remain abroad for seven to 10 days, the embassy said.

Other embassies said they had no plans to withdrawal dependents or staff from the Serbian capital.

The United States and the European Union have warned Serbia to boost protection of foreign diplomats and missions, and the U.N. Security Council has unanimously condemned the attacks.

Serbia's leaders have appealed for calm and President Boris Tadic convened the National Security Council to consider how to prevent further outbreaks of violence.

"We are intensively engaged with a large number of personnel (in finding) the culprits and expect the work to be completed soon," Radovanovic said.

But hard-line nationalist ministers continue to condemn the United States and other nations that have recognized the independence of Kosovo, which Serbs consider to be their historical heartland.

"The United States is the main culprit ... for all those violent acts," said Serbia's minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic.

Protests over the breakaway province's declaration of independence have increased tensions throughout the region.

On Friday, angry demonstrators confronted U.N. police in Kosovska Mitrovica, an ethnically divided town in northern Kosovo. Mobs chanting "Kosovo is ours!" hurled stones, bottles and firecrackers at the U.N. forces, who were protecting a bridge that divides Serbs from ethnic Albanians in the town. No one appeared to be injured.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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