UN police quit Kosovo town after 100 hurt in clashes

UN police were forced to withdraw Monday from Kosovo town after coming under attack as they stormed a courthouse occupied by Serbs opposed to independence.

UN police quit Kosovo town after 100 hurt in clashes
More than 20 UN police and at least eight NATO peacekeepers were wounded amid gunfire and a suspected grenade blast after they moved in to regain control of the UN-run tribunal in the northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Kosovo police spokesman Beshim Hoti said an explosion went off when UN police moved to arrest Serbs who had been occupying the building in protest at Kosovo's declaration of independence a month ago.

"I suppose it was a hand grenade activated in the courthouse yard," he said from the capital Pristina. Another police spokesman, Veton Elshani, said 25 UN police had been injured.

Machinegun fire was later heard and at least one member of the international security forces was shot, a witness said, leading to an order for UN forces to withdraw from the Serb-populated northern half of the ethnically divided town.

"The police are pulling out of northern Mitrovica," said an official from the Kosovo police mission of the United Nations, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At least 22 of the wounded UN police were Polish, Poland's national police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said in Warsaw, adding they had been pelted with rocks, homemade explosives and had possibly been shot at.

The use of weapons makes the violence the worst to have flared in Kosovo since its ethnic Albanian-dominated parliament unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on February 17.


Agencies
Last Mod: 18 Mart 2008, 12:59
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