North Kosovo clashes leave over 100 people injured

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Over 100 people have sustained injuries in clashes between ethnic Serbs and police in northern Kosovo, Belgrade-based media said on Monday.
BELGRADE, March 17 (RIA Novosti) - Over 100 people have sustained injuries in clashes between ethnic Serbs and police in northern Kosovo, Belgrade-based media said on Monday.

Monday morning's operation to retake the United Nations building in the city of Mitrovica triggered the most serious clash between peacekeeping forces and Serbs since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence a month ago.

The media quoted different sources as saying that around 70 people were hospitalized in Mitrovica, including 15 in serious condition. Another two men with severe injuries were sent to Belgrade.

Eight French troops from the international NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), 13 Ukrainian officers of the UN police force and 23 Polish policemen were also injured.

Early on Monday, the UN court building was surrounded and stormed by the UN police force and NATO peacekeepers.

The people occupying the building were former court employees who lost their jobs when Kosovo became a UN protectorate in 1999 after a NATO bombing campaign of Serbia to end a conflict between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. After forcing their way into the courthouse last Friday they hoisted two Serbian flags over the building.

UN mission spokesman Alexander Ivanko said the UN police force command decided to withdraw police from Mitrovica leaving the city, divided between ethnic Serbs and an Albanian majority, in charge of KFOR troops. He added that the UN mission is in talks with Belgrade and Serbian authorities in Mitrovica aiming to rectify the situation.

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