Kosovo Serbs blocked the roads leading to two disputed border crossings with Serbia early Friday, as Pristina announced it would take control of the posts, local media and witnesses reported.
The Serbs moved their trucks to block the road near the Jarinje border crossing, which had already been closed to traffic by NATO-led peacekeepers KFOR who have manned the post since July unrest in the area, Beta news agency reported.
KFOR soldiers put up barbed wire and traffic barriers near the border post, with signs reading "Stop or we will shoot" in English and Serbian, Beta said, as the stand-off escalated.
At another disputed border crossing, Brnjak, several trucks were parked across the road, with several dozen protestors gathered around, witnesses said.
Kosovo authorities were unavailable for comment, but prime minister Hashim Thaci had earlier demanded control of the border crossings in Kosovo's Serb-dominated north and has reportedly ordered an operation on Friday, despite Serbia's objections.
Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that Moscow had information that the operation would be carried out with the assistance of KFOR, and an EU law and order mission, EULEX. Churkin warned that any operation could lead to "bloodshed".
Edmond Mulet, UN assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, gave the Security Council details of the new border tensions.
"Today we were informed that at 9:00 pm local time (Thursday night) gate one was closed by KFOR due to approximately 100 Kosovo Serbs gathered there," Mulet said, referring to Jarinje.
"Although not officially closed, gate 31 has been sealed off by a Kosovo Serb-owned truck completely blocking the road," he added.
Mulet said all public institutions and private businesses will be closed in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo on Friday. Roadblocks had been re-erected at the main bridge which divides the northern city of Mitrovica as well as on main roads in the north.
The official said the United Nations was "very concerned" that any operation at the border posts "could lead to another outbreak of violence" in Kosovo, which is mainly ethnically Albanian.
Beta news agency reported that Serbia's minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic met with the Serb protestors in Jarinje who informed him they would spent the night at the blockade.
The atmosphere was tense, but calm, it added, without giving a precise number of protestors.
"We are organised, but only out of precaution. We will not provoke any violence," he said,
On Thursday, Serbian President Boris Tadic called for restraint on all sides.
"I call on both Serbs and Albanians to show restraint and to support a dialogue as the only way to peacefully solve this historic problem," he said.
"There is no problem that cannot be solved through an agreement, including the issue of trade of goods on the administrative crossings," Tadic added.
The clashes in the north erupted in July when the Pristina government dispatched special police to take over the two posts to enforce a ban on imports from Serbia that was imposed in retaliation for an earlier Belgrade ban on goods from Kosovo.
The Serbian ban was imposed in protest at Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Belgrade, which Serbia, backed by Russia, has refused to recognise.
Source: AFP Global Edition