UN police forced by Serbian rioters to pull out of N. Kosovo town

NATO troops and UN police came under automatic gunfire in the flashpoint town of Mitrovica Monday, March 17. Twenty-two Polish peacekeepers were wounded in the worst violence since Feb. 17 when Kosovo declared independence in the face of Serbian resistance backed from Moscow.
At least three UN police and 2 NATO peacekeepers were earlier wounded in a blast while retaking the UN court seized by Serbs Friday on the Serbian side of the Mitrovica. They were shot at before using teargas to disperse the rioters and arresting 50.
The Serbs have for weeks prevented Albanian court employees from crossing the bridge that divides the northern Kosovo town between the two communities. They have also seized a key railway.
debkafile‘s Balkan sources report that Belgrade appears to be in the throes of a drive to recapture the northern enclave which is dominated by 200,000 Serbs. Serbians are streaming from other parts of Kosovo to join the clashes which could lead to the territory’s partition against intense Albanian resistance.
The new Belgrade government, in crisis over Kosovo, is preparing for another election, the second this year, in May.
A second government fell apart in Macedonia last week, when the Albanian minority walked out of the coalition government.
Hard-line nationalists hope to enter the Belgrade government after the election and derail Serbia’s negotiations for European membership after the EU recognized Kosovo independence.
In Skopje, the Albanian Democratic Party quit the Macedonian government over demands for immediate recognition of Kosovo and of Albanian as a second national language. The accords which ended the Balkan Wars are also falling apart.

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