Monday, September 25, 2006

UN reopens bridge that divides Kosovo's troubled town

PRISTINA, Serbia, Sept 25, 2006 (AFP) -

The main bridge over the river in the troubled northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica, shut a month ago after an outbreak of ethnic violence, was reopened Monday, United Nations officials said.

"The bridge was reopened at 07:00 am (0500 GMT). Unrestricted pedestrians and vehicle traffic are allowed to cross in both directions," Larry Miller, UN police spokesman for the Mitrovica region told AFP.

The bridge over the river Ibar was closed in late August when nine people, including two foreigners, were injured in a grenade attack at a Serb cafe near the bridge, which divides the ethnic Albanian south of the town from the Serb-controlled north.

Police increased security in the town and closed the bridge after the attack, fearing a renewed outbreak of ethnic clashes.

"Increased security measures involving KPS (local police) and international police officers remained in place to ensure the safe passage of all persons," Miller added.

Interethnic tension has remained high more than seven years after the end of the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo between Serbian forces and armed ethnic Albanian separatists.

The southern Serbian province has been under UN and NATO administration since June 1999.

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