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EU Mission Cars Attacked In Eastern Kosovo

PRISTINA (Reuters) -- Unknown assailants hurled fire bombs at two EU mission cars on September 16, days after the mission signed a protocol on security and law enforcement cooperation with neighbouring Serbia.

The attack in the Gnjilane area, in eastern Kosovo, left one car of the European Union police and justice mission (EULEX) burned and another damaged, said Ismet Hashani, a Kosovo police spokesperson. There were no injuries.

"Inside the damaged car we found a petrol bottle that failed to ignite," Hashani said.

EULEX has condemned the attack and described it as an isolated incident.

Earlier this week, the EULEX, tasked with helping Kosovo authorities improve the rule of law, signed an agreement with Serbian police on sharing information for combating cross-border crime and trafficking.

Serbia is refusing to cooperate directly with the government in Pristina as it considers Kosovo a part of its territory.

Pristina initially rejected the agreement but later withdrew its objection after the United States, France, Britain, Germany, and Italy assured the country's leaders the protocol would not jeopardize Kosovo's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On September 14, hundreds protested in Pristina against the agreement and last month more than 20 EULEX vehicles were damaged in Kosovo's capital. Police said 20 people were sentenced to one month in jail.

The EULEX mission was deployed to Kosovo after it declared independence from Serbia last year, replacing a United Nations mission.

In 1999 after a 78-day bombing campaign ended a Serb crackdown on Kosovo Albanians, NATO deployed a peacekeeping force to patrol the area. The Western alliance maintains 14,000 soldiers there, a decade after the end of the conflict.