Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Belgrade, 19 Feb. (AKI) – Several hundred Kosovo Serbs set on fire customs and police stations at border crossings with Serbia on Tuesday in an erupti

Belgrade, 19 Feb. (AKI) – Several hundred Kosovo Serbs set on fire customs and police stations at border crossings with Serbia on Tuesday in an eruption of violence after Kosovo's declaration of independence.

Local media reported that border crossings at Jarinje and Brnjak in northern Kosovo were set on fire in protest over ethnic Albanian policemen and customs officers taking charge of the crossing points.

Members of the international police and military force (KFOR) looked on but didn’t intervene, the Serbian news agency Tanjug said.

Ten cars belonging to Kosovo and the United Nations police were also set on fire, but there were no injuries, the reports said.

Kosovo police spokesman Veton Elsani said KFOR and police were rushed to the scene to quell the unrest.

Kosovo's border crossings with Serbia have been manned by the UN administration (UNMIK) since the province was put under UN control in 1999.

Slavisa Ristic, mayor of the nearby town of Zubin Potok said local Serbs had no objections to the presence of UNMIK and international police, but won’t accept the customs and police force of the newly proclaimed state.

“We can’t accept the institutions and levies from a non-existent state of Kosovo, Ristic said. “If they try once again to impose on us the institutions of a false state, people will surely react,” Ristic added.

About a half of some 100,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo live in the north of the state bordering Serbia. There were some 40,000 Serbs in Pristina until 1999.

For the past nine years, Kosovo Serbs have functioned more or less independently from Kosovo's institutions. International officials in Kosovo have warned that Kosovan authorities could have difficulty incorporating northern Kosovo in the new state.

Tanjug said KFOR soldiers had surrounded and completely blocked the northern town of Leposavic, a Serb stronghold, and UN helicopters were flying over the area.

Several explosions were reported overnight in northern Kosovo and 110 people have been hospitalised in Kosovo's capital Pristina in the past 24 hours, the agency said.

Some were injured by firearms, but it was not clear how, the agency said. A bomb exploded late on Sunday in the divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, populated mostly by Serbs, after the Kosovan parliament proclaimed independence.

The Serbian parliament late on Monday reaffirmed the government's decision to annul Kosovo's declaration of independence.

Prime minister Vojislav Kostunica has ordered the withdrawal of Serbia's ambassadors to countries that recognised the new Kosovo state. Ambassadors to Paris, Washington and London have already been withdrawn "for consulatations".

The United States, Great Britain and France, which spearheaded the independence drive, quickly recognised Kosovo on Monday, followed by Turkey, Albania, Afghanistan, Australia and several other states.

The European Union is in disarray over Kosovo and has been so far unable to reach a common position.

A ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday "took note" of Kosovo's declaration of independence, leaving it individual EU countries to recognise it unilaterally.

The United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon also said it was up to individual members of the UN to recognise Kosovo, "not the UN Secretariat".

Veto-wielding UN Security Council permanent member and Serbian ally Russia, says it will continue to regard Kosovo as part of Serbia under the council resolution 1244.

1 comment:

defender said...

please keep up the good work keeping us upto date. not much in our press here in England.
I am disgusted what is happening to Serbia, be strong