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Serbs Continue to Protest Kosovo's Independence


Police in Kosovo say they have used tear gas and help from NATO peacekeepers to disperse Serb protesters near the Kosovo-Serbia border.

About 150 demonstrators were protesting Kosovo's February 17 declaration of independence from Serbia.

Reports said about 10 police officers were injured as the ethnic Serbs hurled stones and bottles at them.

In Kosovo's Serb stronghold of north Mitrovica, more than a 1,000 people demonstrated against independence for a seventh day. They burned a European flag and a picture of Serbia's President Boris Tadic, who is seen as pro-western.

Kosovo is mainly populated by ethnic Albanians. But Serbia considers Kosovo the cradle of the Serbian Orthodox faith and has refused to recognize its independence.

Also today, the U.N. mission in Kosovo allowed Serbia's minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, to meet with the head of the mission - on the condition that he make clear that his visit was meant to ensure peace and calm among Kosovo Serbs.

In the past, Samardzic has publicly supported violent attacks on Kosovo border posts.

Serbia said the minister's visit today was partly to encourage ethnic Serbs not to move out of Kosovo.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian deputy prime minister, Hajredin Kuqi, told the Associated Press that the Serbian official's visit would be a "provocation."

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