Kosovo Serbs and NATO peacekeepers in shootout

Source: Stars and  Stripes

At least six people were wounded Friday in northern Kosovo in clashes that followed NATO peacekeepers’ attempts to dismantle Serb roadblocks, a spokesman said.

Uwe Nowitzki, a spokesman for the NATO-led peacekeeping mission KFOR, said one soldier was wounded but in stable condition. Two German soldiers were among the injured.

Serb sources in Kosovo said one civilian was shot in the leg, but was not critically injured.

KFOR warned that it will respond with deadly force to attacks. Tensions were high in the area, Serbian media reported, with ambulances rushing to and from the scene of the clashes and KFOR helicopters circling overhead.

The European Union, which also has a mission in Kosovo, called for “everybody to show restraint and cooperate with international organizations in Kosovo,” a spokeswoman said in Brussels.

“We are very concerned about the current situation in northern Kosovo,” said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. “For us, the basic principle of freedom of movement is one of the key principles.”

She said EU officials were in contact with NATO. Officials at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels had no immediate comment on Friday.

KFOR had sought to dismantle two of the largest roadblocks that the Serbs — who are the majority in the north of the mostly Albanian Kosovo — erected 10 months ago to prevent the authorities from establishing control over their enclave.

Since then, there have been several clashes between KFOR and the Serbs whenever soldiers have tried to remove the roadblocks.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 with the backing of major Western powers, but neither Serbia nor Serbs in the former province has accepted the secession.

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