Kosovo Police Seize Control of Border Posts in Serb-Dominated North

Posted July 26th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Kosovo police have tried to seize control of two border posts in the country's ethnic Serb-dominated north, triggering confrontations with local Serbs and leaving two of the officers wounded.

The Kosovo police forces began an operation to seize the Brnjak and Jarinje crossings on the border with Serbia late Monday, but ran into resistance from Serb protesters who tried to block their progress. Police and medical officials say one Kosovo officer was shot and seriously wounded, while a second was wounded in a grenade blast.

A spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton criticized the Kosovo police operation, saying it was not coordinated with EU police forces in the country and does not have EU approval.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian government says it wants to assert control over northern regions where local Serbs refuse to recognize its 2008 declaration of independence from neighboring Serbia. The Kosovo government also is trying to enforce a ban it imposed last week on the entry of Serbian products into the country.

The Serbian government has had a similar ban on imports from Kosovo since the secession, which Belgrade rejects. Serbia views Kosovo as a cradle of its Orthodox Christian faith but withdrew from the region in 1999 under pressure from NATO airstrikes aimed at stopping a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

The NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo said Tuesday it is holding talks with authorities in Kosovo and Serbia to urge them to resolve trade disputes through compromise and dialogue.