KFOR retreats from barricade after brief standoff

More than 1,000 Serbs gathered on Tuesday to defend a barricade in the village of Rudare, near to the town of Zvečan, in northern Kosovo.

Source: Beta, Tanjug

The citizens quickly reacted after sirens sounded alert in northern towns when a convoy of vehicles belonging to NATO troops in the province, KFOR, moved from the town of Leposavić toward the concrete barricade, located on a small bridge in Dudin Krš.

The citizens blocked two vehicles carrying American soldiers.

Their commander spoke with Zvečan Mayor Dragiša Milović, demanding that the barricade be removed, but the mayor informed him that this could only happen if municipal councilors approved it - considering that they were the ones who decided to put up the road blocks.

Milović then suggested that the citizens would stand back and unblock KFOR's vehicles if the troops then returned to Leposavić.

This proposal was accepted and the standoff was resolved.

Milović also revealed that KFOR suggested that the barricade at Dudin Krš should be removed, while the traffic on this road - leading from Zvečan toward the southern, ethnic Albanian part of Kosovska Mitrovica - should in the future be controlled by "a joint team if Serbs and KFOR".

Before the local Serbs were alerted and started gathering near the barricade, KFOR helicopters were seen "intensively flying over the area", said reports.

The barricades - most of which has been removed late last year - were put up on local roads last summer after the Kosovo Albanian authorities in July attempted to take over two administrative line crossings in the north.

The checkpoints are located between northern Kosovo and central Serbia. Serbs are the majority population north of the Ibar River, and reject both the authority of the government in Priština, and the ethnic Albanian unilateral declaration of independence made in February 2008.


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