KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Kosovo &
Serbs set off sporadic explosions and torched checkpoints between Serbia and Kosovo on today to protest Kosovo's declaration of independence and international recognition of the new nation.
Two border crossings in northern Kosovo, staffed by U.N. and Kosovo's multiethnic police and customs service, were set ablaze by Kosovo Serbs who want them removed as a symbol of their desire to rejoin Serbia.
Protesters also tipped over metal sheds housing Kosovo's customs service and sent them sliding down a hill and into a river. Passport control booths were vandalized and set ablaze after more than a thousand of angry Kosovo Serbs marched to the Jarnije checkpoint about 18 miles north of Kosovska Mitrovica.
Groups of Serbs also destroyed another border checkpoint in the nearby village of Brnja. In both cases, there was no intervention from NATO peacekeepers or Kosovo police but traffic was stopped on the road between Mitrovica and Serbia.
Kosovska Mitrovica &
a northern town divided between Serbs and ethnic Albanians &
has been tense since the ethnic Albanian leadership in Pristina declared independence from Serbia on Sunday. NATO helicopters buzzed over Kosovska Mitrovica today.
Overnight, three loud explosions shook the town, one damaging several cars near a U.N. building Two hand grenades hit deserted and already destroyed homes belonging to ethnic Albanians who fled this Serb stronghold after the 1999 war. A U.N. vehicle also was torched overnight in a nearby village.
No injuries were reported. Kosovo Serb authorities said they were investigating the bombings.
Rioting also continued today in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, with protesters demonstrating outside Western embassies. The U.S. Embassy temporarily closed its doors.
International recognition of Kosovo's declaration of independence &
led by the U.S., Australia and the European Union's biggest powers &
appeared to feed Serbs' anger over a unilateral move the government in Belgrade rejected as illegal.
Russia, China and some EU members also strongly oppose letting Kosovo break away from Serbia over Serbia's objections.
Serbian President Boris Tadic implored the U.N. Security Council on Monday to intervene.
"The Republic of Serbia will not resort to force," he said. "On the other hand, this arbitrary decision represents a precedent that will cause irreparable damage to the international order."
The council meeting ended without agreement on a resolution or joint statement regarding Kosovo.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was heading to Pristina to meet later today with President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership declared independence after internationally mediated talks with Serbian negotiators on the province's future fell apart last year. Kosovo, where the population of 2 million is more than 90 percent ethnic Albanian, insisted on statehood. Serbia, which considers Kosovo the ancient cradle of the Serbian state and religion, pushed for wide autonomy.
Kosovo has been governed since 1999 by the U.N. and policed by more than 16,000 NATO troops since NATO launched air strikes to stop a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.
Serbs protest Kosovo independence
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Kosovo &