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Ethnic Albanian group stages anti-U.N., anti-government protest in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Serbia-Hundreds of ethnic Albanians, opposing talks with Serbia on the future of Kosovo, protested Thursday against the U.N. administrators who have run the province for seven years.

Protest organizers, from a group calling itself "Self-determination," beat drums as they marched in front of the U.N. mission headquarters in downtown Pristina, the province's capital, blocking the front gates, chained from inside, as U.N. personnel peered through the curtains of their offices. The demonstrators, some carrying banners with anti-U.N. and anti-government slogans, shouted "Down with UNMIK", the United Nations mission in Kosovo, and accused the local institutions of corruption.

"We need to throw them (U.N.) out of here," Albin Kurti, a former student leader and political prisoner, shouted through a megaphone. Kurti said the group planned to set up tents and camp outside the U.N. compound to block access to the main offices. Speaking of the ethnic Albanian leadership, he told the crowd that compromise with Serbia in the current U.N.-brokered talks will fail to deliver independence, as the ethnic Albanian majority demands.

The protest occurred as U.N. and NATO-led peacekeepers prepared to mark the seventh anniversary since the province came under their administration following a NATO air intervention that stopped Serb forces' bloody crackdown ethnic Albanians.

The leaders of "Self-determination" have organized numerous protests, low in turnout, demanding that the province's U.N. administrators leave Kosovo. Their followers press for the province's independence from Serbia, and oppose the U.N.-brokered talks between ethnic Albanian and Serbian officials aimed at steering both sides toward a negotiated solution on the province's future status by the end of the year.

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