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Protesters fight police, set fire to Kosovo government headquarters

Demonstrators in Kosovo fought running battles with police and set fire to the government's headquarters on Saturday as anger simmers in the young Balkan country over an accord with Serbia.

Reuters’ Fatos Bytyci reports: the governmental disposition at Pristina, Kosovo, fell under fire of petrol bombs thrown by protesters at the city streets. The flames were rapidly doused by the firefighters and the opposition was driven away by police officers who used tear gas to break up the demonstration.

Bytyci continues: “They were protesting against a European Union-brokered deal to give Kosovo's ethnic Serb minority greater local government powers and the possibility of financing from Belgrade. Opposition leaders say the government should resign over the accord and call an early election.”

It was disclosed by police officials that the demonstration resulted in 28 people injured, including 24 police officers and two journalists. More than 40 rebels were detained and knives and gasoline bombs, which were used to emblaze police cars, were confiscated. The total number of protesters was estimated to be around 10,000 people.

“Kosovo's government has accused opposition party leaders of organizing the violence and attempting to drag the country into “crime and anarchy.”

“The aim of this protest was to overthrow the government with violence and leave the country in the hands of the incriminated people that today set on fire the (government) building and police,” it said in a statement.

Opposition parties said they will organize more protests until the government resigns,” Bytyci assumes.

Kosovo backed by the West, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after bombings and airstrikes performed by NATO forced out security forces of Serbia convicted of murdering and banishing ethnic Albanian civilians during a counter-insurgency war. Serbia still does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, but both regions are currently now under EU pressure to normalize their relations in order to receive membership in the Union.

“Many Kosovo Albanians believe the accord with Serbia represents a threat to Kosovo's hard-won sovereignty, now recognized by more than 100 countries including the major Western powers.

Protests against the deal have frequently turned violent over the past year and opposition MPs have repeatedly disrupted the work of parliament by releasing tear gas in the chamber.

U.S. ambassador to Kosovo Greg Delawie, whose country is the biggest supporter of Kosovo’s independence, wrote on Twitter. “Political violence threatens democracy and all that Kosovo has achieved since independence,” Bytyci concludes.

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