17 March 2008 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today deplored attacks against personnel of the United Nations mission in Kosovo today as they re-established control over a courthouse in Mitrovica that a mob had forcibly occupied last week.
The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said that its joint operation, launched this morning with the NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, was continuing.
Initial reports from the scene indicate that some UNMIK police officers, KFOR soldiers and Kosovo Serb protesters have been injured, with vehicles from both contingents burned and dozens of people arrested.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban urged calm, called for dialogue and reaffirmed that UNMIK will continue to take action required by the Security Council resolution 1244, which set up the UN administration after Western forces drove out Yugoslav forces amid inter-ethnic fighting in 1999.
Last month, the Assembly of Kosovo's Provisional Institutions of Self-Government declared independence from Serbia, and since then the Secretary-General has underlined the need for restraint from all sides.
His Principal Deputy Special Representative in Kosovo, Larry Rossin, said that the attacks on the international forces were “a flagrant breach” of resolution 1244.
Mr. Rossin called on all Kosovo communities to exercise calm so that UNMIK can continue to efficiently fulfil its mandate throughout the territory of Kosovo.
“I specifically urge those who are reacting in a violent manner to the action taken by UNMIK and KFOR to respect law and order and to cease their illegal activities,” he said.
Temporarily, UNMIK police from north Mitrovica are redeploying outside of the city to other parts of the region while KFOR re-establishes control of the courthouse area.
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