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Kosovo Serbs protest reconstruction of bridge linking ethnic villages

(Xinhua)

09:08, August 16, 2011

BELGRADE, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Several hundred Serbs from the enclave of Priluzje, northwest of Pristina, on Monday protested the reconstruction of a bridge over the River Sitnica for security concerns, local media reported.

According to Serbian news agency Tanjug, the protesters insisted that the reconstruction plan would give ethnic Albanian villages on the other side of the river direct access to a major highway, thus lead to an upswing in tensions.

"If the bridge is built, it will undermine the pretense of peace we have achieved," said Mayor Zoran Rakic.

As groundwork for the bridge continued unabated on the other side of the river, local Serbs have announced additional protests in the coming days.

Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is spotted with numerous Serb enclaves which reject Kosovo authorities and seek direction from civil authorities in Belgrade.

The enclaves are caught in the struggle between Belgrade, which has said it would never recognize the secession of its southern province, and Pristina, which is striving to exert greater control over Kosovo after having been recognized by some European countries and the United States.

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