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news 28 Jun 12

Over Ten Kosovo Police Hurt In Border Clashes

Kosovo Police clashed with around 70 Serbs on the northeast border at Merdare, who it is thought had entered the country illegally to attend Serbian celebrations of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo.

Fatmir Aliu BIRN Pristina

At least 10 Kosovo Police officers were injured Thursday in clashes with a crowd of angry Serbs at the border at Merdare.

Trouble erupted after Kosovo Police deported a group of 70 allegedly drunk and disorderly Serbs, after it found out that they had entered Kosovo illegally.

“At least 10 to 15 police officers were injured after Serbs threw stones and other objects at them, after being deported to Serbia,” a Kosovo Police source told BIRN.

The Serbs entered Kosovo to attend commemorations of the Battle in Kosovo of 1389 at Gazimestan, near Pristina, a key event in Serbian history.

Kosovo Police spokesperson Baki Kelan confirmed the incident took place but couldn’t give out an exact number of injured police, as they were hospitalized in different towns.

He said the police stopped two buses in the town of Vushtrri at around 5am after receiving information that they had entered illegally Kosovo, crossing from Serbia into Serb-held northern Kosovo at Jarinje.

“The 70 men in the buses were drunk, very aggressive, and disrupted public order. Some wore provocative insignia, such as T-shirts saying 'Kosovo je Nase' ['Kosovo is ours'], and that's why we deported them,” Kelani told BIRN on Thursday.

According to the spokesperson, after the two buses were escorted to Merdare and crossed back into Serbia, the crowd got off the buses and started provoking the police by throwing stones and other objects.

Meanwhile, in northern, Serb-held Kosovo, another incident occurred after a group of Serbs tried to cross the main bridge in Mitrovica leading from the Serb to the Albanian half of town. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, and said the situation was now calm.

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