U.N. police end Serb occupation of Kosovo court

17/03/2008 - 7:17

MITROVICA, Kosovo (Reuters) - U.N. police stormed the main U.N. court in northern Kosovo on Monday, retaking it from Serbs who had forcibly occupied the building three days earlier.

More than 500 mainly Ukrainian U.N. police were involved inthe dawn operation in the flashpoint town of Mitrovica, said aReuters correspondent. Dozens of Serbs were arrested.

Soon afterwards Serb youths threw stones and firecrackersat French NATO troops and the cabin of one NATO vehicle wasseen ablaze.

Before the raid hundreds of French troops in armouredvehicles, part of a 16,000-strong NATO peacekeeping force inKosovo, had blocked access roads to the court compound in thenorth of the town, which is divided between Serbs andAlbanians.

The Serbs offered no resistance as they were led handcuffedto U.N. vehicles. Police removed a Serbian flag from thebuilding.

The Serb minority of some 120,000 among two million ethnicAlbanians rejects Kosovo's February 17 declaration ofindependence from Serbia.

The Serbian government has vowed to never accept thesecession and to extend its authority over Serb areas in theterritory's north.

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