NATO Puts Foot Down in Kosovo

MITROVICA, Kosovo -- NATO placed the Kosovo town of Mitrovica under de facto military law on Tuesday after riots by a hostile Serb population killed one UN policeman and forced the pullout of UN personnel.

The NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, and the United Nations mission ordered all local Kosovo Serb police officers to park their patrol cars and suspend normal duties.

"KFOR have put north Mitrovica under 'military law,'" said a Kosovo security source who asked not to be named. There was no immediate announcement from KFOR.

At the main police station, three dozen Kosovo Serb police officers carried their holdalls and flak jackets out past Belgian armored cars guarding the perimeter to the parking lot.

A Ukrainian police officer serving with the United Nations died overnight of injuries sustained in the riots. Other UN police were injured, some seriously.

The violence was the worst since Kosovo's Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17 and highlighted the risk of the new state's partition along ethnic lines.

Russia is urging Muslim nations not to recognize the declaration of independence by Kosovo, which is predominantly Muslim.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the remarks before a trip to the Middle East.

Lavrov says the situation is a major violation of international law.