NATO troops secure ransacked Kosovo border crossing

NATO troops and U.N. police secured Kosovo's northern borders late on Tuesday, facing down a challenge by ethnic Serbs who ransacked the crossings in protest at Kosovo's independence.

NATO troops secure ransacked Kosovo border crossing
Some 40 NATO peacekeepers, from France and the United States, have put up coils of razor wire across the Jarinje border post that was burnt down on Tuesday.

A Polish U.N. special police unit was standing by in riot gear, a Reuters witness said. Jarinje was one of two border posts between Kosovo and Serbia attacked and set on fire by Kosovo Serbs, who came to the border from the Serb-dominated northwest corner of Kosovo.

NATO said it was securing the other crossing, known as Gate 3-1, north of Zubin Potok town.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, a move already recognised by the United States and major European Union powers but strongly opposed by Serbia and Russia.

The attacks highlighted the challenge facing an EU law-enforcement mission preparing to deploy in the Albanian-majority territory which has been under U.N. administration for nearly nine years.

Kosovo's Albanian Prime Minister Hashim Thaci played down the attacks, saying everything was "under the control of the NATO authorities, Kosovo police and the United Nations".

But Serbia's minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, said they were "perhaps not pretty, but legitimate".

He added Serbia planned to take control of customs in northern Kosovo, though "we hadn't agreed on taking over the customs points in this manner".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Şubat 2008, 15:45