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NATO demolishes barricades in Kosovo amid Serb protests

The NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) used tear gas to dismantle barricades in Northern Kosovo on Friday, amid protests by over 500 Serbs.

Dozens of Serb protesters and eight KFOR troops have reportedly needed medical attention.

On Thursday, German and Austrian NATO troops, equipped with anti-riot gear, called on Serbian protesters staging a sit-down protest, to go home peacefully.

"Go home, otherwise we will be obliged to use force," a KFOR representative said in Serbian to the protesters.

The NATO move came after talks with Serb leaders in northern Kosovo on Wednesday proved futile.

Serbs erected 16 barricades along roads leading into the border crossings in northern Kosovo, after the after Kosovo authorities said they wanted to replace ethnic Serb customs officials at the border with ethnic Albanians.

In northern Kosovo, the 40,000 strong Serb community make up the majority. The Serb residents refuse to recognise the authority of the ethnic Albanian government in Pristina, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said on Sunday, the border should be redrawn and parts of Kosovo handed back to Serbia, if the dispute is to be resolved peacefully.

 Kosovo Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, urged Serbs to remain calm and branded those using violence against KFOR forces as "criminals".

See Serbs defy NATO deadline (Oct 2011)

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