March 28, 2008 / 9:06 AM / 10 years ago

Shots fired at Kosovo Serb police in tense north

MITROVICA, Kosovo (Reuters) - A police checkpoint manned by Serb officers came under fire in tense northern Kosovo overnight and the officers fired back, police said on Friday.

A NATO peacekeeper from Italy stands near an armoured vehicle as he guards the entrance of the U.N. court compound in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Nebojsa Markovic

No one was hurt in the incident.

A police spokesman said the shots appeared to have been fired from the ethnic Albanian village of Kosutovo, north of the flashpoint town of Mitrovica, from a semi-automatic weapon.

The checkpoint is located between Albanian and Serb villages in a strip of northern Kosovo dominated by Serbs, who oppose last month’s declaration of independence by the territory’s 90 percent Albanian majority.

“The officers returned fire and KFOR reinforced,” said Draza Bozovic, the Kosovo Serb police chief in the Zubin Potok region. Danish soldiers with NATO’s 16,000-strong KFOR peace force man a checkpoint near the police position.

The north — home to 50,000 of Kosovo’s 120,000 remaining Serbs — has violently rejected the secession of Serbia’s former province, run by the United Nations since a 1999 NATO air war to halt Serb ethnic cleansing forced the pullout of Serb forces.

Riots in the Serb stronghold of north Mitrovica last week killed one U.N. police officer.

Reporting by Branislav Krstic and Fatos Bytyci; writing by Matt Robinson, editing by Tim Pearce

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