The 2008 unrest in Kosovo follows Kosovo's declaration of independence on February 17, 2008. Some Kosovo Serbs opposed to secession have boycotted the move by refusing to follow orders from the central government in Pristina and attempting to seize infrastructure and border posts in Serb-populated regions. There have also been sporadic instances of violence against international institutions and governmental institutions, predominantly in Northern Kosovo.
Tensions in the North intensified when Serbs in Mitrovica forcibly seized a UN courthouse on March 14, 2008. UN police and NATO forces responded on March 17, and attacks by Serb protesters left one UN police officer dead and as many as 150 people wounded. On June 28, Kosovan Serbs formed the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija to coordinate resistance to the Kosovan government.
Kosovo Serbs have said they intend to form parallel institutions and assert control over infrastructure and institutions in their area in response to Kosovo's declaration of independence. After local elections in May, Kosovo Serb leaders have said they intend to form a Kosovo Serb Assembly. The Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo said they would not be in contact with Kosovo's Albanian government, EULEX, or any country which recognizes Kosovo's independence, threatening to sanction any clergy who do so.
A Serb minister said Serbia planned to have its "own police" in Serb areas as part of an action plan to maintain Serbia's presence in Kosovo. In Northern Kosovo Serb security forces have stopped taking orders from the government in Pristina and are under the command of UNMIK. In the eastern Gnjilane region around 100 Serb officers were suspended from the Kosovo Police Service. Stanko Jakovljevic, Serb mayor of the southern Kosovo region of Štrpce said Serb police "will do today what Serbs ... did in northern Kosovo. They will only recognise orders from international police." In central Kosovo 126 Serb police officers have withdrawn from the Kosovo Police Service refusing to take commands from the central government. Members of the Kosovo Police Service said Serb officers were being intimidated to get them to leave the police force.
On March 3, 2008, Serbian railway workers declared they no longer worked for Kosovo after blocking the passage of freight trains from central to northern Kosovo. The head of Serbia's state railroad company Serbian Railways said Serbia was "taking over its responsibilities after nine years" and that the northern part of the railway would be integrated into Serbia's railway system. On March 5, 2008 UNMIK forces said they reclaimed the railway after blocking the entry of Serbian trains into Northern Kosovo warning that any movement of trains south would "not be tolerated". The next day UNMIK officials met with officials from Serbian Railways in Belgrade to discuss the company's demands to run railways in northern Kosovo. The Managing Director of Serbian Railways Milanko Šarančić said there was no chance of UNMIK running traffic in the north of Kosovo as employees of Serbian Railways terminated their contracts with UNMIK railways. He also said that the company had begun checking lines in the north, as “UNMIK has not maintained the lines properly for nine years.“
On Tuesday February 19, 2008 2,000 Serb protestors, some driving bulldozers, set two border posts on fire along the Kosovo–Serbia border. The destruction of the border posts was sparked by reports Kosovo Albanian customs officials were planning to man the borders. UN peacekeepers stationed at the checkpoints were forced to abandon the posts until they were reopened the following day. Attacks at the Mutivoda crossing point on Monday February 25, 2008 by 100 Serbs injured 19 members of the Kosovo Police Service and forced the post to be closed until the next day.
The day after Kosovo's declaration of independence two bombs in the flashpoint town of Mitrovica damaged several UN vehicles, though there were no injuries. After several attacks in northern Mitrovica an advance team of the EU administrative force withdrew over security concerns. On March 3, 2008, a sniper fired two bullets at a UN office in the northern half of Mitrovica without any injuries reported.
On March 28, 2008, a police checkpoint manned by Serb officers came under fire in northern Kosovo apparently from a semi-automatic weapon fired from the ethnic Albanian village of Kosutovo, north of the town of Mitrovica and the officers returned fire. No injuries were reported.
One June 26, 2008, in the village of Borivojce near the eastern town of Kamenica members of the local Serb and Roma community barricaded a road to protest the construction of a mosque authorized by the local government. According to a police statement Serb inhabitants put rocks on the road. Around 100 members of the Albanian community who were facing them on the other side of the barricade, started to remove the rocks, and the Albanians then threw stones at them. The statement say the police then intervened to separate the groups. The police said one Kosovo Serb and a police officer were injured in the violence.
On March 14, 2008, after staging rallies for several weeks that prevented ethnic Albanian court employees from entering a UN courthouse in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica, hundreds of Kosovo Serbs broke into the building in the Serb-dominated part of the city, forcing UN police to retreat. UN officials' negotiations with the Serbs to end the occupation were unsuccessful, and on March 17 UN police with the assistance of NATO-led KFOR forces entered the courthouse in a pre-dawn raid. When they arrived they were pelted with stones by around 100 Serbs. When they came out after arresting 53 of the protesters inside the courthouse they were attacked with gunfire, grenades and rocks by several hundred protesters who had massed outside. About half of the protesters who had been arrested were freed by fellow protesters during the clashes with the rest being released by the UN after questioning.
The clashes lasted until around noon. One Ukrainian police officer was killed, 70 Serbs and 61 UN and NATO peacekeepers were wounded, and one UN vehicle and one NATO truck were set ablaze. Among the wounded international troops were 27 Polish and 14 Ukrainian police officers and 20 French soldiers. UN police withdrew from northern Mitrovica, leaving the area under the control of the NATO forces.
Gen. John Craddock, NATO's top commander, said that after speaking with NATO commanders in Kosovo that NATO did not feel it necessary to send reinforcements to Kosovo. On 19 March, UN police began to patrol parts of north Mitrovica again together with local Kosovo police, while the NATO peacekeepers still remained in overall control of security at the courthouse and generally in the north of Kosovo. A gradual transition to civilian control will happen over the next days.