NATO clashes with Serbs in northern Kosovo | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 24.11.2011
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NATO clashes with Serbs in northern Kosovo

NATO peacekeepers have clashed with Serbs manning a roadblock in northern Kosovo. It's the latest in a series of incidents as Serbs in the region continue to resist the country's ethnic Albanian administration.

KFOR troops dismantling a roadblock

NATO peacekeepers have tried to dismantle the roadblocks several times

NATO claims that 21 of its soldiers suffered injuries during clashes with ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo amid an ongoing dispute over border management.

The incidents occurred around midnight local time on Thursday when dozens of troops from NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR) attempted to dismantle a Serb-manned roadblock at Dudin Krs, near the town of Zvecan.

A few hundred Serbs were summoned by sirens to defend the barricade and threw stones and drove trucks loaded with gravel at the peacekeepers, who eventually responded with tear gas.

KFOR said in a statement that it ended the operation to avoid "serious casualties on both sides."

String of clashes

Serb demonstration in Kosovo

Local Serbs mostly oppose Kosovo's independence

The ethnic Serb majority in northern Kosovo has set up more than a dozen barricades on roads leading to two disputed border posts with Serbia in a bid to stop Kosovo's ethnic Albanian authorities from posting border police in the region.

KFOR troops and Serbs have clashed at the roadblocks several times over the past few months.

Serbia is under pressure to have the barricades removed and normalize ties with Kosovo if it is to attain European Union candidate status at a bloc summit on December 9.

No breakthrough on borders

Talks between the two sides resumed in Brussels on Tuesday after months of stalemate caused by the border disputes.

Although no progress was made on the subject of border management at the EU-mediated talks, diplomats said there had been steps toward improving cooperation in other areas. These included an agreement by both sides to recognize each others' university diplomas and meet again by the end of November.

Belgrade's key negotiator at the talks, Borko Stefanovic, told the Serbian daily Politika that Serbia would do "everything" to make progress in the talks.

Serbia lost control of Kosovo in 1999 after NATO carried out a 78-day bombing campaign to stop the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in a two-year Serb counter-insurgency war.

Kosovo's 90-percent Albanian majority unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008. However, Belgrade does not recognize the move and still considers the region as its southern province.

Author: Timothy Jones, Spencer Kimball (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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