Serbs Erect New Roadblock in Northern Kosovo

Posted September 30th, 2011 at 5:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Ethnic Serbs have erected a new barricade in northern Kosovo, hours after NATO peacekeepers removed a previous one.

Armed peacekeepers, many in riot gear, and helicopters were deployed Friday to remove a roadblock at the Jarinje border crossing. Loudspeakers broadcast instructions to Serbian protesters to leave the area.

Soon after the earth movers had made enough space for cars to pass, Serbs unloaded rocks and gravel at another point down the road.

The Serbs say they are blocking the roads to stop ethnic-Albanian-dominated authorities from extending their control to northern Kosovo, which is populated mostly by ethnic Serbs.

NATO and European Union police took control of the crossing to expand the security zone and enable Kosovo customs officials to work at the border.

Protesters say the peacekeepers can not be trusted after clashes with NATO-led troops near the border Tuesday left seven Serbs wounded.

Robert Sorenson, a senior United Nations official in Kosovo, urged restraint on both sides and called for the crisis to be resolved through talks.

But an EU-mediated meeting between officials from Belgrade and Pristina earlier this month in Brussels failed to find a solution to the impasse.

Ethnic Serbs reject Kosovo's authorities and consider the region part of Serbia despite Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.