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UN police raid court in Kosovo, arrest Serb demonstrators
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UN police and NATO peacekeepers on Monday raided a UN courthouse in northern Kosovo, retaking the building from Serb demonstrators who had occupied the building for three days, local media reported.

In the dawn operation in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica, more than 500 UN police mainly from Ukraine stormed the building after hundreds of NATO peacekeeping forces first blocked the roads to the court.

After the operation started at 5:00 A.M. (0400 GMT), hundreds of angry Serbians gathered near the building and threw stones and firecrackers at the security forces. They also attacked a UN convoy carrying Serbians who were detained in the morning action, enabling several to escape.

Riot police launched tear gas to disperse the protesters. At least one UN vehicle was set on fire and several demonstrators and policemen were injured during the clash.

UN police said that 53 Serb demonstrators who occupied the courthouse were arrested.

On Friday morning, about 300 Serbian demonstrators took control of the courthouse in Kosovska Mitrovica, which is mainly populated by Serbians. The protesters said they wanted the court to be placed under the authority of Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo's unilaterally-declared independence.

(Xinhua News Agency March 17, 2008)

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