NATO warns Serb hardliners of harsh response
Flash points in Kosovo seem primed to flare again. Both sides are taking harsh positions and not backing down.
NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo will respond with "all appropriate means" when faced with deadly weapons in Serb protests, a spokesman for the KFOR peacekeeping force said on Wednesday.
"We are not a police force. We don't have the same rules. Don't expect KFOR to send flowers when we are being shot at," KFOR spokesman Col. Jean-Luc Cotard told a news conference in Pristina, capital of newly independent Kosovo.
The NATO-led peacekeeping force of 16,000 bristled at Serb allegations of "brutality" during riots on March 17 in the flashpoint town of Mitrovica, a Serb stronghold and now a bastion against Albanian-dominated independent Kosovo.
Serbia's nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica accused the allied force of turning "snipers and banned weapons" on Serb protesters as they battled over a United Nations court building the Serbs had occupied.
NATO said Serbs hardliners fired automatic weapons and threw grenades and Molotov cocktails during the clash. A 25-year-old Ukrainian U.N. policeman was killed by a grenade and a Serb protester was shot in the head and gravely wounded.