As tensions rise in Kosovo ahead of parliamentary and municipal elections in Serbia, NATO's peacekeeping mission KFOR plans to boost its numbers with 550 extra troops from Germany.
Germany is to deploy several hundred extra troops to Kosovo to boost the NATO peacekeeping mission there ahead of elections next month in neighboring Serbia, the military said Saturday.
Some 550 German troops and 130 Austrian troops are to be sent to Kosovo by May 1 ahead of parliamentary and local elections in Serbia on May 5, German central command spokesman Hauke Bunks said.
"In their evaluation of the situation, NATO and the European Union found that the KFOR forces on the ground might not be sufficient to appropriately react to possible Kosovo-wide security incidents in connection with the elections," the German military, the Bundeswehr, said in a statement.
KFOR, the NATO-led mission in Kosovo, currently has about 5,500 troops, 1,300 of them from Germany.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have risen in recent weeks after Serbia said it would include its neighbor in the elections. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and has been recognized by about 90 countries, but Serbia still considers it a renegade province.
Ethnic Serbs are a minority in Kosovo but make up a majority in the north of the country. Many Serbs in the north plan to vote in the elections despite threats from the government in Pristina, dominated by ethnic Albanians, to use "all legal force" to stop them.
acb/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)