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Sunday 28 May 2017

Kosovo installs body scanners in parliament to stop tear gas attacks

MPs clear the hall after a tear gas canister was released during a parliamentary session (AP)
MPs clear the hall after a tear gas canister was released during a parliamentary session (AP)
Lawmakers react as opposition lawmakers release tear gas canisters, disrupting a parliamentary session in Kosovo capital Pristina (AP)

Fatos Bytyci

Kosovo's government has installed a body scanner to stop opposition legislators smuggling tear gas into parliament and releasing it as they have done in every session for the past six months.

In their latest protest against a 2015 EU-brokered deal with Serbia, opposition members of parliament on Thursday released two canisters, threw a glass of water at Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and aimed red lasers at the interior minister's face.

Read More: Hashim Thaci elected president of Kosovo

With security measures so far having failed to stop the protests, the government plans to buy a new body scanner, of the type used at international airports to detect explosives.

Opposition members said it was "top secret" how they smuggled the canisters into parliament.

However, one police officer checking deputies at the building, speaking on condition of anonymity, said be believed they hide the canisters on their body, under their clothes.

Opposition MP Albin Kurti pepper sprays Kosovo's prime minister Isa Mustafa during a parliament session in the capital Pristina (AP)
Opposition MP Albin Kurti pepper sprays Kosovo's prime minister Isa Mustafa during a parliament session in the capital Pristina (AP)

Read More: Kosovo parliament suspended after opposition MPs launch tear gas

He said the existing scanners did not necessarily detect the canisters - some of which easily fit in a pocket - because they were covered in plastic and rubber.

Police only say publicly they are investigating how the canisters are being taken into parliament.

The government said on Thursday the new scanner would cost around €270,000.

Already the parliament meeting room has had new ventilators installed on the roof to clear gas.

Read More: Kosovo opposition releases tear gas in parliament

The opposition has been protesting for months against the EU-brokered deal to give more power to a small Serb minority.

The agreement, which has yet to take effect following a critical judicial review by Kosovo's highest court, has set off the worst political crisis in the country, whose population is 90 pc ethnic Albanian, since independence in 2008.

Read More: Kosovo opposition's violent protests condemned

The opposition, which has been demanding the resignation of the government over the agreement, is call its supporters to protest on March 26.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after NATO air strikes drove out Serbian security forces accused of killing and expelling ethnic Albanian civilians during a counter-insurgency war.

Reuters

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