NATO in north Kosovo withdraws from Serb roadblock

Kosovo Serbs blocking road in front of Slovenian soldiers in NATO

From Nebi Qena, the AP:  NATO forces in Kosovo withdrew from a barricade put up by hundreds of Serbs on Friday to avoid confrontation with Serb extremists blocking the peacekeepers from reaching a base in the Serb-run north, NATO’s commander in Kosovo said.

"I had the option to enforce and open up the roadblock," Maj. Gen. Erhard Buehler told reporters minutes after he ordered his troops to pull out. "I decided not to do it because in the meantime so many criminals and extremists and armed people are here. It would be a nightmare."

The NATO spokesman in Kosovo, Capt. Hans Wichter said the decision by the top NATO commander, Maj. Gen. Erhard Buehler, was made "to avoid bloodshed" in the area, which has been rocked by violent incidents since Kosovo police moved to assert authority over minority Serbs that reject Pristina’s rule.

The protesters applauded and cheered as U.S. and Slovenian peacekeepers turned around on a main road linking Kosovo with Serbia and crossed the Ibar river into the southern part of the areas dominated by ethnic Albanians.

Serbs blocked roads on Friday and have attacked border posts, firing at NATO peacekeepers in an attempt to keep control over Kosovo’s north, which despite a NATO and EU presence remains under Serbia’s realm. . . .

U.S. and French peacekeepers are still in control of the crossing points.  (photo: Reuters)

Image: reuters%207%2030%2011%20Serbian%20roadblock%20in%20Kosovo.jpg