NATO urges Kosovo to de-escalate tension with Serbia

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NATO has urged Kosovo to dial down tensions with Serbia, a day after its government forcibly accessed municipal buildings to install mayors in ethnic Serb areas in the north of the country.

The resulting clashes on Friday between Kosovan police and protesters opposed to the ethnic Albanian mayors prompted Serbia to put its army on full combat alert and to move units closer to the border.

"We urge the institutions in Kosovo to de-escalate immediately & call on all parties to resolve the situation through dialogue," said Oana Lungescu, a spokeswoman for the transatlantic military alliance, in a Twitter post.

She said KFOR, the 3800-strong NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, would remain vigilant.

Almost a decade after the end of a war there, Serbs in Kosovo's northern region do not accept Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia and still see Belgrade as their capital.

Ethnic Albanians form more than 90 per cent of the population in Kosovo, with Serbs only the majority in the northern region.