August 23, 2016 / 10:57 AM / 3 years ago

Grenade strike hits Kosovo TV courtyard in border deal protest

PRISTINA (Reuters) - A hand grenade was thrown into the courtyard of the headquarters of Kosovo’s state-owned broadcaster RTK late on Monday, police said, in a strike claimed by activists protesting a planned border deal with Montenegro.

Transmitters in the courtyard were slightly damaged, but there were no casualties and programming was not interrupted, a police official said on Tuesday.

The border deal, and an EU-brokered accord with Serbia giving more autonomy to Serb-held areas of the country, have

fueled political tensions over the past 10 months.

Landlocked Kosovo, most of whose 1.8 million citizens are ethnic Albanian, declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but is not recognized by Belgrade.

Parliament is due to vote on Sept. 1 on the deal to fix the still undefined border with Montenegro, which opposition parties say will lead to Kosovo losing some 8,000 hectares of land.

Activists living near the border with Montenegro claimed responsibility for throwing the hand grenade, according to letter published by Kosovo media on Tuesday.

The same group said it had also fired a rocket propelled grenade at parliament two weeks ago, again causing no casualties.

In the past 10 months, opposition MPs have released tear gas inside parliament several times to protest the two deals, and opposition supporters have clashed with police.

Kosovo’s government says the agreement with Montenegro is a key condition for its citizens to eventually benefit from a visa-free travel regime with the European Union, while opponents consider it a betrayal of national interests.

Kosovo has signed a trade and political accord with the EU but is still not recognized by five member states: Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Greece and Slovakia.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Ivana Sekularac and John Stonestreet

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