updated 3/4/2008 8:54:00 AM ET 2008-03-04T13:54:00

Serbian prosecutors ordered the arrest Tuesday of a suspect accused of setting fire to the U.S. Embassy during riots against Kosovo's independence.

The unidentified man is suspected of arson and theft in the Feb. 21 attack on the embassy, prosecutors' spokesman Tomo Zoric said. If the man is eventually charged formally and convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

It was not immediately clear whether he was in custody or what he was suspected of stealing from the embassy, but it was described by prosecutors as a "moving object."

Police have already filed charges against dozens of other suspects for allegedly taking part in the attacks on the U.S. Embassy and other Western embassies, but not for the arson which damaged several offices.

Nationalists attacked the embassies after a rally to vent their anger over Western recognition of the independence of Kosovo -- Serbia's cherished medieval heartland.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders declared independence Feb. 17, and the U.S. and major EU governments immediately recognized Pristina's government.

Serbia has refused to endorse the move, vowing to one day retake Kosovo.

Belgrade has faced sharp criticism and protest from U.S. and EU leaders for failing to adequately protect Western missions.

The rioters also destroyed several banks and McDonald's restaurants, and looted nearly 100 shops before they were chased away by the police.

Kosovo had been run by the United Nations and NATO since 1999 NATO airstrikes forced Belgrade to end a crackdown against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian separatists.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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