Kosovo Serbs defy NATO, leave road barricades
Serbs in restive northern Kosovo on Friday maintained their barricades of two key roads in defiance of an order to call off their protest against NATO's Kosovo peace-keeping mission KFOR and European Union law enforcement agency EULEX.
The Serbs, who are accusing the two missions of siding with the Albanian majority and government in Kosovo, have parked tractors, trucks, logs and tyres in the middle of the roads.
The barricades were set up after violence erupted in the area earlier this week, claiming the life of a policeman, in an escalation of a trade war between Serbia and its former province.
The Kosovo government moved to take over the border checkpoints in the mostly Serb north in order to enforce a trade embargo on Serbian goods. Serbs reacted by torching one of the crossings.
On Thursday KFOR took control of border crossings and declared the area a restricted military zone. KFOR ordered Serbs to dismantle the barricades, with KFOR commander Erhard Buehler warning that violence in the zone would be met with deadly force.
Talks aimed at defusing the situation have failed. Buehler is due to meet Serbian officials on Friday.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008 without the approval of Serbia. The Kosovar government has failed to assert its control in the north, where Serbs are in the majority.