Protesters set Kosovo govt HQ on fire over deal with Serbia
A fire broke out at the Kosovo government building in Pristina after angered protesters pelted it with petrol bombs, according to photos and reports from the scene.
Kosovo protesters have just set the government building on fire, opposing agreements w/Serbia pic.twitter.com/x9Z4Er7R2j— Una Hajdari (@UnaHajdari) January 9, 2016
Firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish the fire while police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds, according to Balkans-based reporters’ Twitter accounts. Protesters, in turn, pelted stones and bottles at security forces.
The fire has since been subdued & protesters dispersed by tear gas, with one wall markedly charred pic.twitter.com/kQFGdTm44N— Una Hajdari (@UnaHajdari) January 9, 2016
Photos show that an armored police car has also been set on fire by a Molotov cocktail.
Police are chasing Kosovo protesters through town, armored police car has been set on fire by Molotov cocktail pic.twitter.com/BFDZQmSYl0— Una Hajdari (@UnaHajdari) January 9, 2016
Following clashes, protesters reportedly regrouped and sent fireworks at police.
Sparks fly as huge quantity of fireworks explodes after group carrying Kosovo Liberation Army flag enters downtown pic.twitter.com/IHRGZuAIKe— Balkan Newsbeat (@BalkanNewsbeat) January 9, 2016
Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga has harshly condemned the violence and vandalism of public property by the protesters, in a statement on her Facebook page.
The protesters gathered on Saturday at the government HQ to rally against deal brokered by the European Union to give Kosovo's ethnic Serb minority greater local powers and the possibility of financing from Belgrade.
The majority of Kosovo’s population is Albanian. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. More than 100 countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence, though it isn’t accepted by Serbia and Russia.
In December, Kosovo's Constitutional Court rejected part of the deal between Kosovo and Serbia, which gave more executive rights to ethnic Serbs, saying that it violates the country’s constitution. Kosovo’s opposition has called for a referendum or fresh elections if the EU-mediated deal stays in place.