NATO troops in Kosovo border scuffles

NATO-led peacekeepers use tear gas and armoured vehicles in confrontation with Serb protesters over border barricades.

    Tensions erupted near a barricade in Zubin Potok [REUTERS]

    NATO-led peacekeeping troops have clashed with Serb protesters attempting to prevent them from dismantling barricades at two border crossings in northern Kosovo.

    The Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops fired tear-gas canisters and used armoured vehicles during Thursday's confrontation as up to 500 Serbs blocked them at the main crossing of Zubin Potok.

    At least 22 people required treatment for tear-gas inhalation and three required hospital treatment, Serbian officials told the Beta news agency. Eight soldiers were also wounded, according to KFOR.

    Protesters at the Zubin Potok barricade told the AFP news agency that they planned to protest peacefully.

    "We will stay here, we're not thinking about leaving. We are protesting peacefully, we will not attack anyone," said a 28-year-old protester.

    Witnesses said the air was thick with smoke as troops fired tear gas cannisters. Protesters retaliated by letting off fire extinguishers.

    Footage of the scuffle, broadcast on Kosovo's Koha television channel, showed heavily protected KFOR troops trying to make their way through after protesters had driven them back several metres.

    Tensions over the border crossings first arose in July when ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo, still loyal to Serbia, erected 16 barricades on roads leading to two border crossings where Kosovo authorities wanted to replace ethnic Serb customs officials with ethnic Albanians, who make up a majority of Kosovo's population.

    The Serbs in Northern Kosovo, of which there are 40,000, make up the majority in several towns and refuse to recognise the authority of the ethnic Albanian government of Pristina.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.