The Washington Post reports that following a massive (upwards of 150,000 participants) and peaceful demonstration in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, with the theme “Kosovo is Serbia”, a group numbering a few thousand at most has attacked the US and (neighboring) Croatian embassies, setting the US embassy on fire. The demonstrations were held in the aftermath of Albanian Kosovars’ official declaration of independence on Monday. The US is one of many countries to have officially recognized Kosovo as the newest ex-Yugoslav independent state, setting off a public and official outcry on the part of Serbs, for whom Kosovo is the historical birthplace of their nation.
Politicians in Belgrade are caught between their rhetoric to do what it takes (short of violence) to prevent Kosovo from achieving full-fledged independence and the lack of many good non-violent options to do so, given the Serb leadership’s openly declared goal of one day joining the European Union. One possibility would be to energize (or otherwise entice) the Serbs in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina to agitate for higher levels of autonomy, or outright independence, stressing the similarities of the situations. This would certainly raise the ire of European leaders and would not earn the Serbs any bonus points in their quest for further integration into European political and economic institutions.
Here is footage from the Belgrade independent media outlet B92:
“Upon the conclusion of the [official] demonstration, undreds of violent demonstrators attacked the American and Croatian embassies. The police intervened at 7:13 pm.”
You can find a gallery of photographs from the day in Belgrade at B92’s website here.