Germany, Austria sending troops to Kosovo for Serbia vote

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Germany and Austria said Saturday they are sending some 700 more troops to Kosovo to help prevent unrest in the north of the breakaway province ahead of elections in neighbouring Serbia on May 6.

Germany's defence ministry said 550 soldiers would be deployed at the request of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force, while Austria's defence ministry said 150 troops would join the Kosovo Operational Reserve Force.

The European Union's rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, for its part said Friday it had increased its presence in northern Kosovo in recent weeks with the NATO-led peacekeeping mission raising the number of patrols.

Minority Serbs in the northern part of majority ethnic-Albanian Kosovo intend to take part in Serbia's general elections, but the government in Pristina, the capital of ethnic-Albanian Kosovo, considers this as unacceptable and has threatened to use "all legal force".

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognised by around 90 countries. Serbia finances a parallel administrative system among some 100,000 Kosovo Serbs in the areas where they make up the majority.

KFOR currently has some 6,200 soldiers from 29 nations and is under German command.

© 2012 AFP

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