Kosovo police disperse protesters in tense north

MITROVICA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse hundreds of ethnic Albanians angry because minority Serbs reinforced a barricade separating parts of central Mitrovica.

At least seven police officers were injured and five cars set ablaze by protesters.

NATO armored vehicles staked out a downtown bridge. The alliance leads a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

Lt. Col. John Cogbill of Richmond, Virginia, who is in the U.S. contingent, said peacekeepers were called up Sunday to support police efforts to contain the crowd.

This week, Serbs used trucks and bulldozers to remove mounds of earth used to block ethnic Albanians from crossing the bridge and placed large flower pots instead.

Serbia rejects Kosovo's 2008 secession and backs the Serb minority's defiance of Pristina authorities. Most Kosovars are ethnic Albanians.

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