Violence Erupts in Split Kosovo

New country 'inches away from partition'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2008 10:25 AM CST
A United Nation checkpoint burns as a Kosovo Serb waves a national flag in the village of Jarinje, on the Serbia-Kosovo border, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008. Serbs torched UN checkpoints between Serbia and...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Hundreds of Serbs torched government and UN buildings in Kosovo today in the worst violence since the country declared independence on Sunday, raising fears of an ethnic split, Reuters reports. Seemingly well-organized gangs rampaged near the border, driving off peacekeepers who tried to intervene. No injuries were reported. “We are inches from partition,” said one Western official.

Ethnic Serbs who dominate the new country’s northwest corner staunchly oppose Kosovo’s split from Serbia. If the violence persists, Kosovo may be forced to close the bridges to the region, dividing Kosovar Serbs and Albanians. But one UN official said he doubts it will come to that. “We have had the major earthquake” of independence, he said. “These are just the aftershocks.”