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FACTDROP: NATO extends deadline for Kosovo Serbs to remove roadblocks


NATO extends deadline for Kosovo Serbs to remove roadblocks

Πηγή: M&C
Oct. 16 2011

Belgrade - NATO peacekeepers on Sunday extended the deadline for Serbs to remove roadblocks in northern Kosovo by 24 hours until Tuesday.

The peacekeepers commander, German General Erhard Drews, pushed the deadline back in order to provide more time to the population for the dismantling of the barricades, according to a statement by the peacekeeping operation known as KFOR.

Drews earlier Saturday had told the Serbs to remove roadblocks and allow his troops and traffic free passage by Monday morning.

But local leaders in northern Kosovo, the largest Serb enclave in the mostly Albanian former province, did not budge by Sunday evening and all of the more than a dozen barricades remained in place, with local residents taking turns manning them, Serbian state TV RTS said.

The Serbs voiced hope that KFOR will not try to use force to remove the barricades, warning that violence could erupt.

In that case, said Krstimir Pantic, mayor of the self-organized Serb municipality Mitrovica, 'neither we, nor KFOR would control the situation.'

The roadblocks, improvised from vehicles, logs, dirt, gravel, and - in at least one place - concrete, have largely paralysed traffic in the north since July.

The Serbs erected them then to hamper efforts by the Kosovo government to assert control over the border and crossings from the enclave to Serbia proper.

Tensions erupted into violence twice, in July and September. One Kosovo police officer died and several KFOR soldiers were injured.

Financially and politically backed by Belgrade, Serbs in Kosovo are resisting the authority of the government in Pristina. Leaders in Belgrade so far have dismissed demands from the West to stop meddling in Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.

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