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Albanians and Serbs kept apart in Mitrovica

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Albanians and Serbs kept apart in Mitrovica
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Ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica have been kept apart by security forces in the worst unrest since the country’s independence two years ago.

About two thousand Albanians were protesting against Serb local elections in the northern part of the country where Pristina has no control.

Hundreds of Serb counter-demonstrators threw stones and fireworks as police and NATO peacekeepers struggled to separate the two sides.

Police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse Serb protesters trying to charge across a bridge. At least two people on the Serb side were injured by rocks.

The mainly ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO bombed Serb forces to stop civilians from being killed in a two-year war. The situation in the north remains uneasy. Belgrade does not recognise the new country and is backing the local Serb elections.

NATO’s mission, which has around 10,000 peacekeepers on the ground, says it will not tolerate violence and will take all necessary measures to reinstall calm.