Violent protests against EU mission in Kosovo

26.08.09 @ 09:25

  1. By Leigh Phillips

The European Union's law enforcement mission in Kosovo (EULEX) was on Tuesday (25 August) the target of violent protests by Albanians opposed to the presence of the international community in the country.

  • The group was protesting the signing of a police co-operation agreement with Belgrade (Photo: Pim de Kuijer)

Twenty eight EULEX vehicles near a youth centre in downtown Pristina were damaged during the events, organised by the Vetevendosja (Self-Determination) group, which launched its assault in reaction to co-operation between EULEX and Belgrade.

The vehicles were attacked with sticks and stones or overturned.

Kosovo police arrested 21 members of the group, which said that the demonstration was organised against "the EULEX presence and all its actions in Kosovo including the protocol agreement with Serbia."

A protocol on police co-operation between EULEX and Serbian Interior Ministry is set to be signed in the coming days.

One member of the group and three police officers were wounded in the melee.

The EU mission, deployed in 2008, condemned the violence.

"EULEX strongly condemns the action taken earlier today in the center of Pristina when a number of EULEX vehicles were damaged," the mission said in a statement.

"Whilst EULEX supports the idea of peaceful protest as an important element in any democratic society, committing criminal damage does not further the interests or the arguments of any such protestors."

In a separate incident, clashes between Serbs and Albanian Kosovars in Mitrovica, home to a concentration of Serbs, in northern Kosovo resulted in seven people being injured.

According to reports, the violence broke out following a rally of around 100 Serbs protesting the reconstruction of Albanian buildings that had been hit during the war in the late 1990s.

Stones were thrown at Albanian construction workers and a hand grenade went off. At some point the two sides exchanged shotgun fire, the BBC reports.

EU forces then used tear gas to calm the situation.

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