Kosovo police use tear gas to disperse opposition protesters
Jan. 09, 2016
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Police in Kosovo used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a group of violent opposition supporters who pelted them with rocks and Molotov cocktails following an anti-government protest in the capital on Saturday.
The violence came at the end of a peaceful rally where several thousand people called on Kosovo's government to resign, arguing the executive has broken the country's constitution in reaching deals with Serbia and Montenegro last year.
At the end of the rally, some opposition supporters pelted police and the government building with rocks and other hard objects, despite calls from organizers to disperse peacefully. Part of a government building was set alight before officers intervened.
Police spokesman Baki Kelani said eight policemen, two citizens and two journalists were injured and 24 protesters were detained, adding two police cars and many other public and private properties were damaged.
In December Kosovo's Constitutional Court decided that part of a deal between Kosovo and Serbia, which would give more powers to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, was not in line with the country's constitution.
The opposition also has opposed a border demarcation with neighboring Montenegro.
Since September last year the opposition has blocked Kosovo's parliament with tear gas, pepper spray, whistles and water bottles to protest the deals and their supporters have held violent protests in Pristina.
"To calm citizens Mustafa's government should resign," said an opposition statement.
The government says the opposition wants to come to power through violence and has called on it to come to parliament to talk.
The president and the international community have also called for dialogue.
The EU office in Kosovo condemned the "spiral of violence" and called for "calm and renouncement of violence" as the way forward for Kosovo.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, an act that Serbia still rejects. The two countries have been holding European Union-mediated talks to overcome their differences.
Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, contributed to this report.