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21 KFOR Soldiers Injured In Kosovo Clash

German KFOR troops patrol near a Serb-erected barricade in the village of Zupce, northern Kosovo.
PRISTINA -- NATO-led peacekeepers say 21 KFOR soldiers have suffered injuries in a clash with protesters in northern Kosovo.

The clash occurred overnight on November 23-24 after KFOR troops moved to dismantle a roadblock put up by local Serbs to prevent Kosovo's ethnic Albanian authorities from establishing control in the north of the country, where Serbs predominate.

"At midnight, more protesters gathered, supported by three trucks, and advanced towards the KFOR troops," A KFOR spokesman, Uwe Nowitcki, told RFE/RL in Pristina.

"The demonstrators used force, including the throwing of stones and pushing back KFOR troops by attacking them with trucks loaded with gravel. KFOR troops were forced to fire warning shots into the air. In addition, KFOR also used tear-gas and batons for self-protection."

KFOR decided to stop the operation "in order to prevent a further escalation of the confrontation and avoid serious casualties on both sides."

Serbs in northern Kosovo reject majority ethnic-Albanian Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

Local Serbs have been blocking roads leading to two border checkpoints in the north since the summer after Kosovo authorities tried to send their customs and police officers there.
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