UK deploys 600 soldiers to strengthen NATO presence in Kosovo amid rising tensions

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Some 600 British soldiers are to be deployed in Kosovo to reinforce NATO’s presence in the former province of Serbia which was last week rocked by armed clashes, the alliance said Sunday.

They are from a reserve force made available at the weekend to KFOR, the force deployed by NATO in Kosovo, to deal with the situation and the resurgence of tension in the region.

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“The UK is deploying around 200 soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment to join a 400-strong UK contingent already exercising in Kosovo, and further reinforcements will follow from other Allies,” said Dylan White, NATO spokesman.

“The decision follows the violent attack on Kosovo Police on 24 September, and increased tensions in the region,” he added, without explicitly referring to Washington’s statement on Friday warning of a Serbian military build-up on Kosovo’s border.

NATO again called for calm on Sunday and demanded that Belgrade and Pristina resume dialogue as soon as possible as “the only way to achieve lasting peace”, White said.

A Kosovo police officer was killed last Sunday in an ambush in the north of Kosovo, where Serbs are in the majority in several towns.

A shoot-out ensued between the Kosovo police special forces and heavily armed Serbs.

It marked one of the most serious escalations in Kosovo in recent years.

Serbia refuses to recognise the independence of its former southern province, which has an Albanian majority, a decade after a deadly war between Kosovo independence guerrillas and Serbian forces, which ended after a NATO bombing campaign.

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