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21 Feb, 2008 11:17

Violence breaks out on Kosovo-Serbia border

Several hundred Serbian army reservists have been hurling stones at NATO peacekeepers in protest against Kosovo's split from Serbia. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Serbs are gathering in the capital Belgrade for a massive demonstration.

Border checkpoints between Kosovo and Serbia, guarded by NATO peacekeepers, have been burnt down by angry crowds.

In neighbouring Bosnia, embassies of countries that support the province's independence have also come under attack.

In the divided city of Mitrovica in Kosovo, thousands of Serbian students have been protesting against what they see as a breach of international law.

On the Serbian side of Mitrovica, life hasn’t changed much over the past few days. The cafes are full and pedestrians are out on the streets. But wherever you go the conversation is the same, and the question being asked is what to do now that Kosovo’s declared independence.

Each day, at exactly 12:44 thousands of demonstrators gather in the central square. They want to draw attention to the United Nations resolution 1244 that says Kosovo belongs to Serbia and is under international administration.

The students come from all over Serbia. They say their protest is peaceful and dignified and they refuse to accept a new nationality.

Vuk Mitrovic, vice-president of Independent Student Union, traveled from Belgrade a week ago to organize the events.

“People are coming from all Serbia. We also have lots of international friends coming to protecting no independent Kosovo,” Mitrovic claims.

Viktoria Krstic dropped out of her studies at university in Vienna. She’s come back to her hometown for as long as it takes so that Kosovo remains in Serb hands.

“I think other people will also come here to help – one person, then another person. Then there will be lots of people here,” Krstic said.

More and more people are coming to Mitrovica to do their share in the struggle of one nation’s survival. For now, all of Serbia is united by what they see is the Kosovo tragedy.

Things are normal for now but the mood here could change in a second. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are expected to converge on Belgrade on Thursday before turning their attention here on Friday for the largest rally planned in Kosovo so far.