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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 March 2008, 01:02 GMT
Kosovo suspends rebel Serb police
Kosovo Serb police protest in Gracanica on 29 February
Serb police officers also protested in the Gracanica enclave
Some 150 Kosovo Serb police officers have been suspended for refusing to take orders from the ethnic Albanian authorities in Pristina.

All are based in the same area of the south-east and they are asking to be put under the direct command of the local United Nations mission.

The Kosovo Police Service (KPS) said talks were under way with Serb officers working in other parts of the south.

Serbs have been refusing to recognise Kosovo's declaration of independence.

About 700 ethnic Serbs serve in the 7,000-strong KPS, created by the UN's mission (Unmik) after it took control of Kosovo at the end of the 1998-99 war.

Serb KPS officers in the northern Serb stronghold around Mitrovica already only accept orders from Unmik.

Protest spreads

KPS spokesman Veton Elshani said the suspended officers in the Gnjilane area had not been sacked, only suspended, but their weapons, badges, ID cards and radios had been taken off them.

A united Serb front... is trying to dictate policy to the UN
Nick Thorpe
BBC correspondent, Pristina

"They will still be receiving salaries from the KPS but they will not be discharging their duties," he said.

He added that the suspension applied only to officers in Gnjilane.

About 100 uniformed Kosovo Serb police officers gathered in Gracanica, a Serb enclave just outside the capital Pristina, on Friday to demand talks with Unmik.

A Kosovo Serb radio station reports that they were given until Saturday to decide to accept KPS authority or be suspended.

A Kosovo Serb policeman reacts to his suspension

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