Kosovo police have closed two border crossings with Serbia in the north of the country due to unrest. Protesters blocked the Jarinje and Bernjak crossings with trucks. According to the police, shots were fired at the Kosovar police. No one was hurt.

    An air raid siren sounded for three hours in the northern town of North Mitrovica. The border crossings were blocked with trucks loaded with gravel and heavy machinery.

    The unrest is related to new rules that will apply from midnight to Serbs living in Kosovo. They will have 60 days from Monday to place Kosovar number plates on their cars.

    All Serbian citizens visiting Kosovo will also have to request an extra document at the border from Monday to be able to enter the country. Serbia asks the same from Kosovars.

    In 2008 Kosovo became independent from Serbia. About 50,000 Serbs live in the north of Kosovo who still use Serbian license plates and documents. Kosovo is recognized as an independent state by more than 100 countries, but not by Serbia and Russia.

    Earlier unrest due to license plates

    It is not the first time that the license plate issue has caused concern. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti also wanted to end this last year, but then canceled that decision due to protests. There were then demonstrations at the same border crossings. Kosovo then deployed special police forces and Serbia flew warplanes along the border.

    The UN peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR), led by NATO, calls the situation in the north of the country tense. The peacekeeping force also says it is “ready to intervene if stability is threatened”, in line with “our UN mandate”.

    The peacekeeping force was established in 1999. Currently, 28 states are participating, and there are still 4,000 military and civilian personnel on duty to keep the peace.

    ttn-19