PRISTINA, Kosovo — Thousands of ethnic Albanians protested in Kosovo’s capital Saturday against a minority Serb politician’s denial of war crimes against them and demanded the government take over the management of the country’s crucial mining complex.
Waving Albanian flags and banners, they called for the dismissal of the Serb Minister Aleksandar Jablanovic, whose comments minimizing Serbia’s role in the 1998-99 Kosovo war especially angered the families of some 1,000 ethnic Albanians still missing.
Police estimated 12,000 protesters showed up. A handful threw rocks at the government building in Pristina, breaking several windows.
Jablanovic is part of the governing coalition along with former Kosovo guerrillas who fought a separatist war against Serbia. Some 10,000 people died in the war when Serbian troops launched a brutal crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians. The violence was halted by NATO’s 78-day bombing of Serbia, which forced Serb troops in 1999 to give up control of the overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian territory.
Saturday’s protest follows a week of demonstrations throughout Kosovo organized by opposition parties.
Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008 but Serbia has never accepted its independence. Many ethnic Albanians fear Belgrade is gaining a foothold in Kosovo fifteen years after the end of the war.
The protests also followed a strike by over 400 miners at Kosovo’s Trepca mining complex demanding the government takes over the administration to stop the mine from being liquidated.
Protesters also want to keep Serbia from having a say about the mine’s future. Trepca’s riches are considered government property but the mine is administered by the Kosovo Property Agency, an independent body set up back when Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia.?
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