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News 30 Jun 14

Kosovo Arrests 18 Over Mitrovica Barricade Unrest

Kosovo Police arrested 18 people after an outbreak of unrest this month in the divided town of Mitrovica amid protests at the blockade of the main bridge by local Serbs.

BIRN
Pristina

Police said that those arrested are suspected hooliganism, attacking officials, theft and illegal possession of weapons.

The arrests followed violent incidents on June 22 when Kosovo Albanians, angered by new barricades erected by Serbs on the main bridge in Mitrovica, clashed with police.

 
        Protesters setting vehicles on fire/ Photo: Kosovo Police  

Several protestors and 13 police officers were injured, while protestors set six vehicles on fire and damaged 25 others.

The protesters had gathered in response to a new barricade set up by Kosovo Serbs. About two weeks ago, the Serbs initially dismantled a huge roadblock, but replaced it with a construction which they called the ‘Peace Park’.

Mitrovica’s main bridge separates what are now two municipalities: South Mitrovica, largely inhabited by Albanians, and North Mitrovica, where mostly Serbs live.

The unrest has underscored underlying tensions despite successful EU-facilitated talks, which have made strides in normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

The municipal assembly of Mitrovica South has announced an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss the violence earlier this month.

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