Kosovo police arrest dozens of opposition members in crackdown

image copyrightAFP
image captionMore than 80 members of the Self-Determination Party were arrested

Police in Kosovo have arrested a prominent opposition MP and 86 members of his party after he addressed a large anti-government protest.

Armed officers clashed with supporters of the main opposition party, who tried to prevent the arrest of their leader Albin Kurti, in the capital Pristina.

Mr Kurti has led a series of protests in parliament against agreements made with Serbia.

Opposition MPs have paralysed the work of parliament for weeks.

Prosecutors said in a statement that police had acted upon their order as Mr Kurti was suspected of committing three offences, including "endangering public order and the illegal use of weapons."

image copyrightAFP
image captionMr Kurti was arrested at his party's headquarters in Pristina
image copyrightAP
image captionOrganisers say around 35,000 people participated in the protest
image copyrightAFP
image captionSupporters of the opposition tried to prevent Mr Kurti's arrest

Mr Kurti, a former leader of the Self-Determination Party, has repeatedly released tear gas, and once pepper spray, in parliament to disrupt proceedings.

He has spearheaded opposition to a deal with Serbia, mediated by the EU in August, that gives greater autonomy to Kosovo's ethnic Serb minority.

The deal with Serbia is now before Kosovo's constitutional court.

The opposition also objects to a border demarcation deal with Montenegro that it says hands Kosovan territory to its neighbour.

Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but has never been recognised by the Belgrade government.

The split came a decade after a conflict between Serb forces and Kosovan Albanian rebels. A Nato bombing campaign against Belgrade in effect forced Serbia to cede the state.

image copyrightAP
image captionThousands of anti-government protesters gathered at a downtown Pristina square
image copyrightReuters
image captionOpposition supporters are angry about a deal made with Serbia

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