Kosovo clashes force UN pullout


Belgrade, Serbia : United Nations police in Kosovo were forced to withdraw from Serb areas in the divided city of Mitrovica on Monday after clashes with Serb demonstrators.

Support TwoCircles

At least 22 UN police and eight NATO troops were reported injured after a raid to retake a court seized by Serbs.

Troops used teargas as they faced gunfire, stones and petrol bombs.

It is the worst violence since Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence last month. Kosovo Serbs and Serbia refuse to recognize its independence.

It also coincides with the fourth anniversary of a two-day episode of inter-ethnic violence in Mitrovica that left 31 people dead.

Many of the protesters who seized the court last week are said to be former staff who lost their jobs in 1999 at the end of the war in Kosovo, when it came under UN administration.

Serbs had staged rallies outside the building for several weeks, preventing ethnic Albanian court employees from crossing the bridge over the Ibar River that divides Mitrovica into a Serb-run north and an ethnic Albanian south.

Tension in the region has risen sharply since Kosovo declared independence.

Last week, Serbs tried to take control of a railway line in the northern Kosovo.

In February, some 150 Kosovo Serb police officers were suspended for refusing to take orders from the ethnic Albanian authorities in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina.