Kosovo says offices attacked in volatile north as Serbs block roads

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Two interior ministry offices in northern Kosovo were attacked near border crossings blocked by local Serbs angered by a ban on cars with Serbian licence plates entering the country, police said on Saturday.

The car registration office in the town of Zubin Potok was set ablaze and two hand grenades were thrown at the civil registration office in the town of Zvecan though they did not go off, the police said.

There was no mention of any casualties.

Serbs from Kosovo's north have blocked two main roads near the border since the government ban went into force on Monday. All drivers from Serbia must now use temporary printed registration details that are valid for 60 days.

The Kosovo government says its move mirrors measures in force in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo since 2008, when Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

Tensions between the two countries are now at their highest for years. NATO's mission in Kosovo, where peacekeepers maintain a fragile peace, called for restraint.

"Serbia is using Kosovo citizens to provoke a serious international conflict," Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in a statement, accusing Serbia of "encouraging and supporting" individuals to attack the state of Kosovo.

Kurti has asked Serbia to start recognising Kosovo car licence plates to allow free movement of people and goods. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said Kosovo should first remove police units sent to the north of Kosovo to help enforce the car plate measures.The two countries committed in 2013 to a dialogue sponsored by the European Union to try to resolve outstanding issues but little progress has been made. Kosovo’s independence is recognised by some 110 countries including the United States, Britain and most Western states, but not by Russia, Serbia's traditional ally, and five EU member states.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci, editing by Igor Ilic and Timothy Heritage)

09/25/2021 20:33

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