NATO closes Kosovo border crossings to Serbia amid violence

Other News Materials 19 February 2008 16:24 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - NATO-led peacekeepers have closed two border crossings toward Serbia on Tuesday and stepped up its presence in the area owing to an "escalating situation" on the other side, police said in Pristina.

The peacekeepers from the KFOR mission took control over the crossings from the Kosovo and international police, shortly before noon, spokesman Veton Elshani told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"There are two border crossings in northern Kosovo which are closed, at Janjine and Leposavic, due to the very serious situation which is escalating there," Elshani said.

One of the crossing points the Serbian side was torched and the other one blown up in an explosion. "Police has completely withdrawn from the places and KFOR is in charge now," Elshani said.

KFOR has sent reinforcement in the north, KFOR spokesman, Colonel Bertrand Bonneau, told dpa.

"We are reinforcing in northern Kosovo after these two incidents," he said. "We have set up checkpoints in the area and we will use all necessary means to put the situation under control."

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on Sunday and has already been recognized by several countries, including the United States.

The split of what Serbs regard as their heartland soil, which today is dominated by a 90-per-cent majority, has spurred violent protests in Belgrade and other Serbian cities over the past two days.