Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Border Incidents in Kosovo

These are the first rumblings. Does anyone think they will be the last?

According to ANSAmed:

The situation at the border checkpoints between northern Kosovo and Serbia returned to normal today, after this morning’s incidents caused by some 200 Kosovo Serbian protesters, the command of the NATO KFOR contingent said, adding that the rally was dispersed on the arrival of a French detachment.

The protesters attacked in a rapid succession a police station in Jarinje (called gate 1) and then the border crossing of Brnjak (called gate 2), both inside the Kosovo Serbian enclave north of Kosovska Mitrovica, setting fire to the former and blowing up passport control booth and several vehicles near the latter. Kosovo police officers of Serbian origin and international police officials, faced with the impossibility to intervene, called for KFOR reinforcements to act for the first time since Kosovo’s unilateral independence.
- - - - - - - - -
No incidents were registered after the arrival of the French soldiers. The rally dispersed, following verbal tension with some 30 indomitable protesters, while the border crossing was temporarily closed.

According to Kosovo Serb sources, the protest sparked off from the announcement of the possible arrival of Albanian customs officers at the Brnjak crossing: a crossing that the Serbs — not recognising Kosovo’s independence — do not consider a border. The head of the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Joachim Ruecker, condemned the raid as “a violation of the mandate given to the UN” in the region and warned that no “violence will be tolerated”.

Another protest (this time peaceful) took place at the same time in north Mitrovica by one thousand students, while youth processions of solidarity with the Kosovo Serbs are held without incidents — after the appeal of President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to stop any violent action — in the Serbian cities of Kragujevac, Jagodina and Nis.

Hat tip: C. Cantoni