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Insane brawl breaks out in parliament

A brief brawl broke out on Thursday between Kosovo politicians as emotions boiled over in parliament during debate over measures to defuse tensions in restive Serb enclaves in the north.

The melee kicked off as Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressed the house and was doused with water by a rival politician.

The move sparked a chaotic brawl as legislators clashed in shoving matches. There were no reports of injuries following the incident.

Kosovo’s parliament is no stranger to fiery showdowns.

During his years in opposition, Kurti gained notoriety for unleashing tear gas canisters during legislative sessions, forcing politicians to don gas masks as noxious smoke filled the chamber.

Thursday’s scrap comes with Kurti vowing to de-escalate tensions in northern Kosovo, where pressure has been mounting following his government’s decision to install ethnic Albanian mayors in four Serb-majority municipalities in May.

The move has triggered one of the worst bouts of unrest in the north in years, with demonstrations, the arrest of three Kosovar police officers by Serbia and a violent riot by Serb protesters that saw more than 30 NATO peacekeepers injured.

Opposition parties in Kosovo have become increasingly critical of Kurti’s handling of the crisis and accused the prime minister of undermining Pristina’s relations with an array of Western allies.

Kurti is set to meet Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic next week in Brussels where the two sides are under heavy pressure from the European Union to dial down tensions.

The tussle in the north is just the latest in a long list of incidents to rock the area since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 — nearly a decade after NATO forces helped push Serbian troops from the former province during a bloody war that killed around 13,000 people.

Belgrade — along with its key allies China and Russia — has refused to recognise Kosovo’s independence, effectively preventing it from having a seat at the United Nations.

Kosovo is overwhelmingly populated by ethnic Albanians, but in the northern stretches of the territory near the border with Serbia, ethnic Serbs remain the majority in several municipalities.

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