Accessibility links

NATO Troops Fire Shock Grenades at Protesters in Northern Kosovo

French NATO troops have fired shock grenades in the flashpoint northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica, to turn back rock-throwing Serbs angered by Kosovo's declaration of independence.

Tuesday's flare-up came hours after a Ukrainian police officer serving with United Nations peacekeepers died of injuries sustained in rioting Monday in the divided city. Several other serious injuries were also reported.

Violence erupted in Mitrovica when U.N. police and NATO peacekeepers evicted Serbs who took over a U.N.-run courthouse last week.

Witnesses said Serb protesters threw rocks and gasoline bombs and grenades, and shot at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. U.N. peacekeepers were ordered out of Mitrovica as the violence worsened. NATO forces remain.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO airstrikes drove Serbian forces out of the region. An estimated 120,000 Serbs remain in Kosovo among two million ethnic Albanians since Pristina's February 17 declaration of independence.

Russia has called the Mitrovica violence a direct result of Kosovo's independence declaration. Moscow claims the secession has also spawned separatist violence in Tibet and Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia.