Scores injured and arrested in Pristina rioting

PRISTINA -- The situation was calm but still tense in Pristina on Tuesday evening after a day of clashes between the police and demonstrators.

(Beta/AP)
(Beta/AP)

Around 100 persons have been detained, while 29 protesters and 56 police officers have been injured.

Many downtown streets remain blocked and there is strong police presence this evening, the Albanan language website koha.net is reporting.

The Kosovo police used tear gas and a water cannon earlier in the day in an attempt to contain and push back about 1,000 demonstrators who threw rocks and firebombs.

Tanjug's reporter said that there were "several dozen injured on both sides," while the local media said the head of the Self-Determination group in the Kosovo assembly Visar Imeri was among them.

The police also used armored vehicles and arrested a number persons, among them the mayor of Pristina Spend Ahmeti.

The riots today broke out after another official of the Self-Determination party, Dardan Mulicaj, "gave the police an ultimatum to, within 15 minutes, remove the barricades placed in front of the Kosovo government building."

He said that a Serb member of the government in Pristina, Aleksandar Jablanovic, "called the mothers of Djakovica savages" and told the government and the police that the protesters were "not savages, and that so much security was not needed."

Previously, Jablanovic said that he described those Albanians who attacked Serbs in Djakovica with stones on Christmas Eve as "savages," and that this did not refer to "the mothers of Djakovica."

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

The protesters today demanded his resignation, and Pristina's takeover of the mining complex Trepca, majority-owned by the Serbian Development Fund, by means of turning it into a public company. This is opposed by the government of Serbia and Serb political representatives in Kosovo.

Opposition Initiative for Kosovo official Valdete Bajrami also spoke to say that "Jablanovic's prime minister is actually Aleksandar Vucic," and that Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa "cannot sack him for that reason."

She then called on Mustafa to resign, and accused him of putting together "a cumbersome government, with many members and political officials."

She also called for "urgent discussions" about a law on public enterprises, and said that it was recently withdrawn from procedure "because it will be discussed in Brussels."

The Self-Determination Movement organized today's rally, and its leader, Albin Kurti, was announced as one of the speakers.

A previous protest held on Saturday also turned violent.

The NGO "Mothers' Appeal" from Djakovica, which was among the organizers of that rally, did not take part today, saying the protests were "taking on a political and partisan dimension."

"Trepca miners and an organization of veterans of the 1998-99 war" also "distanced themselves," according to reports.

The protesters on Tuesday carried banners reading, "There is no state without Trepca," "Trepca is ours, not Serb," "Isa is a servant of Serbia," "Hashim (Thaci) to jail," "Jablanovic out," and, "Down with the government from Raska."