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NATO Troops Fire Teargas, Rubber Bullets to Clear Kosovo Entry

North Atlantic Treaty Organization peacekeepers fired teargas and rubber bullets at local Serbs in the north of Kosovo after the forces were hampered in their operation to dismantle roadblocks and clear access to a checkpoint toward Serbia, Serbian state television RTS reported.

U.S. members of NATO’s operation in Kosovo, also known as KFOR, fired rubber bullets today after Serbs, who had kept the road blocked, interfered with the dismantling and threw stones at them. RTS reported seven civilians and four KFOR troops were wounded.

Tensions escalated ahead of a new round of European Union-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at finding solutions to ease ordinary people’s lives.

Kosovo ended a trade embargo on products from Serbia earlier this month trying to ease tensions between the two Balkan nations, after imposing the trade ban on goods from Serbia in July. It also sent special police forces to the Serb-dominated north of the country to assert authority over its entire territory three years after declaring independence from Serbia.

Serbia and Kosovo on Sept. 2 struck an agreement on “status-neutral” documents. Serbia needs to show it’s making efforts to improve relations with its former province as it aims to win EU candidate status by year’s end.

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