Hundreds of Kosovo war veterans have clashed with police at a protest to demand higher pensions, leaving at least three people injured, according to police.
Police on Monday kept members of the War Veterans’ Organization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) away from the parliament in Pristina, where lawmakers were discussing a proposal to raise the minimum salary from 170 euros ($183) to 250 euros ($269) per month.
More than 30,000 war veterans get 170 euros ($183) per month for their pensions but were not included in the draft law, which did not pass.
They forced their way into the parliament building’s yard, despite the tear gas fired. They also tried to enter the hall of the building but were kept at bay by a police cordon.
Police said that during the “unannounced” protest, participants “tried to enter by force and damage the Parliament building doors” and also used hard objects, tear gas against police officers.
Police denied using tear gas on the protesters, but local news media showed pictures of at least one officer doing so.
Police said two police officers and a civilian were injured in the clashes.
Reuters news agency put the number of protesters at about 2,000 and said police used pepper spray to disperse them.
The International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions have warned that financially strapped Kosovo, riven by poverty and corruption, cannot afford to extend higher benefits to its war veterans.
Kosovo Liberation Army
Kosovo’s 1998-1999 fight to break away from Serbia was led by the KLA, whose main leaders are now being tried at a European Union-backed war crimes court in The Hague in the Netherlands.
More than 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, died during the war before a NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to pull its troops out of the country and to cede control to the United Nations and NATO.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and was recognised by the United States and most of the West, but not by Serbia or its allies Russia and China.
Last month, The Hague court sentenced two leaders of the Kosovo war veterans’ association to four and a half years in prison for witness intimidation and obstructing justice by publicising leaked confidential documents “pertaining to the investigations and internal work” of the prosecutors.