Fresh clashes in Kosovo over Serbia accord
Protesters supporting the opposition clash with police in Kosovo's capital Pristina - REUTERS

PRISTINA: Police and protesters clashed in Kosovo for a second day on Wednesday in a deepening crisis over relations with former ruler Serbia.

Police fired tear gas at a crowd of around 150 people lobbing rocks, bottles and petrol bombs outside the government building in central Pristina.

Hours earlier, bomb disposal experts detonated a hand grenade thrown near Kosovo’s Constitutional Court, which has been asked to rule on a European Union-brokered accord with Serbia that the parliamentary opposition vehemently opposes.

On Tuesday, opposition lawmakers fired tear gas and pepper spray in parliament and police clashed with rock-throwing protesters, the latest in months of violence over the accord.

The opposition is angry in particular at an agreement to grant ethnic Serb areas in Kosovo greater local powers and the possibility of some financing from Belgrade.

Majority-Albanian Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999 when NATO carried out 11 weeks of air strikes to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Serbian forces trying to crush a guerrilla insurgency.

Wednesday’s protests followed news of the arrest of opposition lawmaker Donika Kadaj-Bujupi on charges of releasing tear gas in parliament.

Police also said they were looking for three more lawmakers including Albin Kurti, founder of the opposition Self-Determination party, who is wanted for releasing tear gas and firing pepper spray.

Kosovo’s president has sought a ruling from the Constitutional Court on whether the EU-brokered deal was in line with the constitution. The court is due to issue its ruling in the next few weeks, and on Wednesday it was surrounded by police and bomb squad units after a grenade was thrown into the backyard of the complex.

No one was hurt and the grenade was detonated in a controlled explosion.


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