NATO soldiers on Thursday removed Serbian roadblocks in northern Kosovo as they attempted to show their strength in backing the central government of the Balkan state at Pristina.
The barricades had been manned by Serbian forces for nearly three months, the Serbs have rejected Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.
Peacekeeping forces swooped into the area at dawn and advanced on the barricades which were made out of parked vehicles, rocks and logs. According to Serbian state-run television tear gas was fired at protesters to help clear the way.
In a region where many Serbian’s claim their residency Cmdr. Frank Martins, a spokesman for NATO force called on residents to “stay calm and respect the rule of law.”
Speaking about NATO’s push on Thursday Serbian President Boris Tadic said Belgrade will never recognize the sovereignty of Kosovo while urges Serbs “not to react violently.”
Tensions grew earlier in the year when Pristina officials placed soldiers along the Kosovo-Serbia border to enforce an import ban from the country, in response the Serbs installed roadblocks and clashed with Kosovo police.
In the meantime Serbian officials have denied a NATO request to allow for “free travel” near the countries border, instead only agreeing to “humanitarian” supply shipments in those regions.
Here’s a video of the clash:
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