Sparks have flared for the seventh day in northern Kosovo as 200 ethnic Serbs gathered in the village of Brdjani to protest the reconstruction of homes for returned Albanian refugees.
Police guarding Albanian houses from protesting Serbs have resorted to tear gas
European Union police (EULEX) fired tear gas on Friday to disperse the protesters as they chanted “Kosovo is part of Serbia” and waved flags reading “EULEX fascist” and “occupation.”
A spokesman for EULEX has confirmed that an EU police convoy was hit by three Molotov cocktails late Thursday evening as it patrolled Mitrovica, a flashpoint city divided by a river into ethnically Serb and ethnically Albanian halves.
Albanians want to go home
The European Union police mission in Kosovo deployed late last year
EU police have already used tear gas twice this week to prevent ethnic confrontations in Mitrovica. Ethnic Albanians are attempting to return to their homes in the north, which were destroyed in Kosovo's 1999 conflict, but Serbs are still in the majority in these towns and villages and refuse to cooperate with Albanian authorities.
Tensions have run high in northern Kosovo since the Albanian majority declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008. Since then Kosovo has been recognized as an independent nation by 58 countries, including the United States and most of the European Union.
The 120,000 remaining Serbs, however, have attempted to block the return of Albanian refugees and opposed the deployment of EULEX.
The EU mission is meant to take over from the United Nations, which has run the former province since 1999.