North Kosovo tense as Serbs block roads : The Tribune India

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North Kosovo tense as Serbs block roads

Explosions heard overnight | Forced to erect barricades for protection: Serbian Prez

North Kosovo tense as Serbs block roads

Ethnic Serbs block a road near Rudine village in North Mitrovica, Kosovo, on Sunday. REUTERS

Pristina, December 11

Tensions were high in northern Kosovo on Sunday, with Serbs blocking roads as shots and explosions rang out overnight, Kosovo police and media reported on Sunday. No injuries were reported.

The blocking of the roads with heavy vehicles and trucks happened a day after the Serbian president said he would ask the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo to permit the deployment of 1,000 Serb troops in the Serb-populated north of Kosovo, claiming they are being harassed there.

The road blocks, which the ethnic Serbs say were erected to protest against the recent arrest of a former Kosovo Serb police official, came despite the postponement of the December 18 municipal election the Kosovo Serbs were opposed to.

Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that his message to the Serbs in Kosovo is that “there is no surrender and there will be no surrender.” He claimed the Serbs had been “forced” to erect the road barricades to protect themselves from Kosovo security forces.

The European Union rule of law mission, known as EULEX, reported that “a stun grenade was thrown at an EULEX reconnaissance patrol last night,” causing no injury or material damage.

EULEX, which has some 134 Polish, Italian and Lithuanian police officials deployed in the north, called on “those responsible to refrain from more provocative actions” and said it urged the Kosovo institutions “to bring the perpetrators to justice.” Unidentified masked men were seen on the barricades that were blocking main roads leading to the border with Serbia, as Kosovo authorities closed two border crossings to all traffic and pedestrians.

On Sunday morning, the situation was calm on the barricades, but with an increased presence of Kosovar Albanian police in the areas with a mixed population in the north, and more international police and soldiers elsewhere.

Elsewhere, Serbian officials claimed that heavily armed Kosovo policemen “burst into” premises of a strategic Serb-controlled dam on the artificial Gazivode Lake on the border with Serbia. The report could not be independently verified. The Serb officials asked urgent EU action to “restrain the thugs” who, they alleged, want to trigger another war with their country. — AP

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