NATO puts off planned troop reduction in Kosovo because of upsurge in violence

NATO recentlly reinforced its 5,000 troops in KFOR due to violence in northern Kosovo

From the AP:  NATO’s Kosovo commander said Tuesday the alliance has shelved plans for a troop reduction because of an upsurge in violence and lingering security threats in the country’s ethnically tense north.

Maj. Gen. Erhard Buehler said in an interview with The Associated Press that he does not think “there will be further reductions in the near future” in the peacekeeping mission, which was deployed to end the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

“There are some conditions to follow,” the German officer said. “The most important condition is to substantially improve the security situation in the north.”

The mission had planned to reduce by half its 5,000 NATO troops in Kosovo by the end of this year. But last month’s violent border dispute between Kosovo and Serbia forced the alliance to bring reinforcements in from Germany and Austria.

One Kosovo policeman was killed during clashes that erupted after Kosovo’s government tried set up customs points along its border with Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Serbian officials responded by setting up roadblocks in Kosovo’s Serb-run north and shooting at NATO peacekeepers.  (photo: Demotix)

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