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Kosovo situation under control after independence
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Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said Sunday the entire territory is in full control of NATO-led peacekeepers, the UN mission and local police one week after the declaration of independence.

Kosovo institutions are closely following the situation in Serb-dominated north Mitrovica, and ready to face possible challenges there, he said during his visit to former Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova's tomb.

Thaci reached out to Serbs living in Kosovo. "Our measures are in the interest of all Kosovo citizens," he said.

He promised that human rights will be respected in Kosovo. "Kosovo is your homeland," he appealed to Serbs.

On Sunday, hundreds of Serbs continued their daily protests against the Kosovar ethnic Albanian authority's declaration of independence a week ago.

Protesters rallied in the northern part of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica. The protesters first attended a concert and many of them then marched to the bridge that separates the Serb community with ethnic Albanians in the south.

The rally was peaceful and there were no clashes with the UN police that guarded the bridge.

A dozen Portuguese soldiers from the NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, KFOR, were deployed to watch the protests. But they left after it became clear that the situation was less tense than Friday when protesters hurled stones, bottles and fire crackers to UN police.

Sunday's rally was the seventh in row after the unilateral declaration of independence by the ethnic Albanians a week ago.

The situation in northern Kosovo remains tense. The European Union removed on Saturday its staff from the northern Kosovo for security reasons. The EU personnel were preparing the ground for a 2,000-strong EU police and justice mission in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, ethnic Albanian prisoners held in north Mitrovica were transferred to the ethnic Albanian-held southern part of the city.

(Xinhua News Agency February 25, 2008)

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