Serbia endorses bomb attack on Kosovo border

Kosovo's honeymoon as an independent state was rudely shattered yesterday when hundreds of Serbs converged on two border checkpoints separating Serbia from the newly free state and destroyed them with plastic explosives.

United Nations peacekeepers evacuated by helicopter the police officers manning the checkpoints, and the vandals then used a tractor to push the metal sheds that functioned as checkpoint buildings down a hill and into a river.

The checkpoints were at Jarnije and Banja, 20 kilometres north of the divided city of Mitrovica.

Serb authorities in the four districts implicitly endorsed the attacks, calling on Belgrade to "urgently take steps" to protect Serbia's territorial integrity – in other words, to take military action to prevent the writ of the newly independent state extending to Serb majority areas. The Serbian Kosovo minister, Slobodan Samardzic, said "today's action is in accordance with general government policies".

It was widely predicted in the run-up to independence that the four Serb-dominated districts contiguous with Serbia in the north-west corner of Kosovo might issue a counter-declaration of partition from the Albanian-majority Kosovo. That has not happened, but some Western officials in Pristina said that the border attacks brought de facto partition closer.

Veton Elshani, a spokesman for Kosovo's police force, said of the attacks on the border posts: "It was very dangerous and the police had to withdraw and call for help from Nato peacekeepers."

Kosovo is some 90 per cent ethnic Albanian, but the four districts, including Mitrovica, are mostly populated by Serbs, who are bitterly resentful of the fact that the province known as the historic heartland of "Old Serbia" should have broken free.

Last night, French and American troops belonging to the KFOR peacekeeping mission were said to be attempting to seal the vandalised crossing points. The top UN official in Kosovo, Joachim Ruecker, condemned the attacks. "Any violence is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated," he said.

It was obvious on the road heading north from Pristina towards Mitrovica that something had gone badly wrong. Streams of white UN vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers (APCs), sped north,and camouflaged APCs were seen moving in the same direction. Traffic in the ethnic Albanian part of central Kosovo was badly disrupted by impromptu KFOR checkpoints.

The violence extended to Mitrovica north, the Serb quarter of the city, where for a second day thousands of protesters marched through the town to the bridge that separates the two communities. Monday's demonstration had been peaceful, but yesterday they used rocks and sticks to vandalise UN vehicles as they marched.

The previous night several loud explosions were heard in town, one of them damaging several cars near a UN building.

Mitrovica has long been the most sensitive corner of Kosovo, where hundreds of houses were destroyed and dozens of people died in ethnic attacks across the divide in 2004.

Kosovo's Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, insisted that there was no cause for alarm. "Everything is under the control of the Nato authorities, Kosovo police and the United Nations," he said. "Kosovo is integral, inseparable, and Kosovo territory is recognised internationally."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee