NATO soldier, 3 Serbians injured in Kosovo clashes

NATO soldier, 3 Serbians injured in Kosovo clashes

NATO soldier, 3 Serbians injured in Kosovo clashes

German army soldiers serving in the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo guard. AP Photo

A NATO soldier and three Serbs were wounded on June 1 when NATO troops in the Kosovo Force (KFOR) used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd that clashed with units removing Serb-held barricades in northern Kosovo.

KFOR spokesman Uwe Nowitzki told Agence France-Presse that one soldier was wounded “during the removal operation in (the village of) Rudare,” the latest in a series of clashes in the flashpoint area since last year. Local media in Pristina reported that the wounded soldier was a member of U.S. forces with the NATO-led troops Oliver Ivanovic, Serbia’s state secretary for Kosovo, told Tanjug news agency three Kosovo Serbs were wounded when KFOR troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse several hundred people protesting at the barricade’s removal.

Ivanovic said about 150 KFOR soldiers were deployed in the area where local Serbs had set up the roadblock to prevent ethnic Albanian Kosovo police from entering the Serb-populated area. Northern Kosovo has been a scene of serious clashes since the Serbs first set up roadblocks last July. In November, some 50 KFOR soldiers were hurt as they moved to dismantle barricades erected at the border by Serbs.

The roadblocks are among the last on major roads yet to be dismantled by KFOR.

Kosovo’s minority Serbs, who do not recognize Pristina’s declaration of independence in 2008, set up the road blockades to prevent ethnic Albanian police and customs officials from reaching the border with Serbia proper. Most were removed in February as a result of an EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

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