KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Serbia (AP) - Serbs in tense northern Kosovo said Monday they have formed neighborhood security units following a recent spate of attacks in the area. The U.N. police said they had no knowledge of such units.
The Serb Coordination Center said in a statement that the self-styled observation posts and vigilante groups were set up at "potentially dangerous points" last week to stave off possible attacks against the Serbs in northern Kosovo.
"Constant attacks on the Serbs and their property, from robberies to murders, have forced us to organize ourselves," the statement said. It added that the units were formed with the help of members of the Kosovo police and former Serb police. No other details were given.
There was no immediate comment from the U.N. authorities in Kosovo, who have run the province since a 1999 war. The U.N. police in Kosovska Mitrovica -- the divided city that is the center of northern Kosovo -- said they were not aware that the units were formed.
The Serbs last week have complained of growing incidents in the region, and the U.N. authorities promised to send additional police to step up security.
Forming of Serb-only units could fuel tensions in Kosovo, amid the ongoing U.N.-brokered negotiations that will decide whether the province will gain independence or remain part of Serbia.
Kosovo now formally is a Serbian province, but it has been run by the United Nations and NATO since 1999, when a NATO air war against Serbia forced Belgrade to end a crackdown against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian separatists and pull out of the province.
Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo insist on gaining independence, while the minority Serbs and Belgrade want the province to remain within Serbia.
Also Monday, Serbia's president Boris Tadic warned that "any form of independence" for Kosovo would destabilize the Balkans. Serbia has offered Kosovo full autonomy from Belgrade's government, but not territorial independence.