UNMIK fires teargas at Kosovo protesters

U.N. police in Kosovo fired teargas to disperse ethnic Albanian protesters lobbing stones at the U.N. HQ on Tuesday.

Izvor: Reuters

Tuesday, 28.11.2006.

16:46

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UNMIK fires teargas at Kosovo protesters

A Reuters reporter said they dispersed after U.N. riot police fired teargas from inside the U.N. compound.

It was the first violence targeting the U.N. mission and Kosovo's leadership since a decision this month by major world powers to delay a decision on the Albanian majority's demand for independence until next year.

The United Nations, which has run Kosovo since NATO bombs drove out Serb forces in 1999, reported "credible threats" against its personnel and property in Kosovo on Monday. It said it was stepping up security but did not link the warning to Tuesday's scheduled protest.

The West had promised a decision on Kosovo's final status this year, but opted to delay until after a general election in Serbia on Jan. 21 in order to aid pro-Western parties.

Diplomats say Kosovo will probably win some form of independence, supervised by the European Union, but the timeframe and path to statehood remain unclear.

Protest leader Albin Kurti, a former political prisoner in Serbia, promised more protests in the capital. "Pristina is the centre and source of all the bad things that are happening to Kosovo," he told the crowd.

"We are 99 percent, and they are only 1 percent, sitting in their offices," he said of Kosovo's political leaders. Kurti's followers say Kosovo should have the right to vote for its independence, rather than negotiate with Serbia.

Negotiations began in February, but have produced little sign of compromise. U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari is due to present his proposal on "final status" after the Serbian election, but a new U.N. resolution could be months in coming.

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