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Violent Kosovo protests after lawmaker arrested

October 13, 2015

Kosovar police have used tear gas against a crowd gathered to demand the release of a nationalist lawmaker. Self-Determination party leader Albin Kurti was among involved in a violent flare-up in parliament last week.

Albin Kurti
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Xhemaj

Protesters gathered outside the police station at the behest of the opposition Self Determination party, after Kurti was arrested on Monday evening and taken to the main police station in the capital, Pristina.

"Police have arrested Albin Kurti," the party said on its Facebook page. "We invite all activists, supporters and citizens to gather in front of the police station."

Hundreds converged on the police station, throwing stones and concrete ripped up from a square that was being repaved. The objects smashed police station windows and officers responded with tear gas.

Kurti last week released tear gas in Kosovo's parliament, as part of a long-running protest against a deal European Union-brokered deal aimed at normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia. The previous month, in defiance of the agreement, members of the opposition threw eggs at Prime Minister Isa Mustafa as he gave a parliamentary speech.

Rights to Serbian communities

Kosovo, which has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Belgrade rejected the move, and still considers the territory as a breakaway southern province.

Under the controversial deal, Kosovo gave greater financial and legislative rights to its minority Serb community, including the establishment of an association of Serb-run municipalities.

Kurti - who was jailed by Serbia for agitating against Belgrade rule during the 1990s - claims the deal represents a threat to Kosovo's sovereignty.

Serbia fought a war with Kosovar guerilla insurgents in the late 1990s. That conflict ended after Serbian troops withdrew from the territory following an 11-week NATO bombing campaign.

rc/jr (Reuters, BETA)