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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 20:22 GMT
UN police back in north Mitrovica
UN police patrol in northern Mitrovica on Wednesday
Monday's clashes forced police out of the north of the town
UN police have begun returning to the Serb part of the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica after clashes there on Monday in which a UN officer was killed.

The UN officers began patrolling again jointly with local Kosovo police.

UN forces left the town after Monday's bloody fighting. Regular protests have shaken the town since Kosovo declared independence last month.

Separately, Croatia and Hungary have joined the growing list of nations to recognise Kosovo's independence.

A similar statement is expected on Thursday by Bulgaria, another Balkan nation.

Map

The move caused anger in Serbia, which recalled its ambassadors to Zagreb and Budapest - as it has already done from about 30 countries that have recognised Kosovo.

Serbia's foreign minister said Kosovo was "an illegal state", warning that nations that had recognised it "cannot count on good relations with us".

Barbed wire

Peace is returning to the northern, predominantly Serb part of Mitrovica, reports the BBC's Nick Thorpe in the town.

As UN police began moving back in, Nato peacekeepers removed barbed wire from the bridge over the Ibar river, which divides the town.

Burnt car and barbed wire following Monday's riots in Mitrovica
More than 130 people were hurt in Monday's clashes

In the nearby village of Zvecan, Serb leaders met UN officials to invite UN civilian staff to return as well.

On Monday, police abandoned the northern part of Mitrovica after fighting pitched battles with Kosovo Serbs who had earlier seized a city courthouse.

One Ukrainian police officer died and up to 80 UN police and Nato peacekeepers were injured, along with dozens of protesters.

Nato remains in overall control of security both at the courthouse, and throughout the north - with a gradual transition to civilian control over coming days, our correspondent says.

He says one point of future friction may be the criminal investigation into Monday's events which the regional UN police chief, David McClean, has promised to carry out.



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UN police on the streets of Mitrovica






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