Kosovo police arrest 13, fire tear gas in protest clashes

Pristina (AFP) - Kosovo police fired tear gas and arrested 13 protesters Wednesday during clashes in which demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails outside parliament in the latest eruption of anger over relations with Belgrade.

Opposition MPs and their supporters are in a weeks-long protest against EU-brokered dialogue and agreements with Serbia, the country from which Kosovo broke away and declared independence in 2008.

The protesting MPs have repeatedly paralysed parliamentary sessions using tear gas, which was released for the fourth time in the parliamentary chamber on Tuesday.

After an MP from the opposition Self-Determination party was detained for police questioning on Wednesday over the disruption, angry supporters of the party gathered outside parliament.

They were seen by an AFP reporter hurling Molotov cocktails and stones while about 30 anti-riot policemen dispersed them with tear gas, chasing them along a central street in the capital Pristina.

"The police were forced to intervene as the protesters were very violent," police spokesman Baki Kelani told reporters.

"We are acting upon four detention warrants from the public prosecutor for four MPs," he said, confirming that one of them had been detained "while we are still looking for three others".

The Self-Determination party said the homes of two of its MPs had been searched by police, including that of Albin Kurti, the most prominent protester.

A police statement later said that four police officers were injured and 13 protesters arrested in the clashes.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 -- a move Belgrade does not recognise -- and EU-brokered talks are designed to improve relations between the two sides, which fought a war in 1998 and 1999.

The opposition is against agreements reached during the talks, especially plans to set up an association of Serb-run municipalities giving greater autonomy to Kosovo's Serb minority.

Protesters say the initiative will deepen the ethnic divide and increase Serbia's influence in Kosovo, which is predominantly ethnic Albanian.

"They should either arrest us all or renounce the agreements... There will be no peace in Kosovo while they are not withdrawn," Dardan Molliqaj, secretary general of the Self-Determination party, told a local television channel on Wednesday.

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