Kosovo police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at ethnic Albanian rioters burning police cars and lobbing rocks in protest over the blockage of bridge by ethnic Serbs. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Police in Kosovo fired teargas and rubber bullets on Sunday at ethnic Albanian rioters burning police cars and lobbing rocks in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, in protest at the blockade of the main bridge by ethnic Serbs. A Reuters reporter saw Polish special police units, part of a European Union mission, open fire with rubber bullets, during one of the worst bouts of civil unrest since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The violence broke out when several hundred Albanians, protesting over the Serbs' closure of the bridge for the past three years, began hurling rocks and bottles at Kosovo police. They set fire to cars belonging to the officers and the EU law and order mission. Kosovo police responded with teargas. U.S. soldiers, part of a NATO peace force of some 5,000, guarded the bridge in four rows of Humvees. A police spokesman said 13 police officers and 10 civilians were wounded. Five people were arrested. By evening, the situation was calm but NATO troops, EU and Kosovo police were holding their positions. Mitrovica has been a frequent flashpoint between Serbs and Albanians since Kosovo's 1998-99 war, when NATO intervened with 11 weeks of air strikes to halt the massacre and expulsion of Albanians by Serbian forces waging a counter-insurgency war.