A Nato peacekeeping force has stated that it is “ready to intervene” as tensions between Kosovo and Serbia rise.

Kosovo police announced the closure of two border crossings in the dangerous north after local Serbs blocked highways and fired bullets at police in protest. Protests erupted in response to an order to exchange Serb car license plates to Kosovan ones within two months.

Nato’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) said in a statement: “The Nato-led KFOR mission is monitoring closely and is prepared to intervene if stability is jeoparadised in accordance with its mandate coming from UN SC Resolution 1244 of 1999. KFOR will take whatever measures are necessary to keep a safe and secure environment in Kosovo at all times, in line with its UN mandate.”

Nato statement released on twitter amid tensions on Serbia-Kosovo borders

Fourteen years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, around 50,000 Serbs in the north continue to use Serbian-issued license plates and documentation, refusing to recognize institutions run by the capital, Pristina. More than 100 nations have recognized Kosovo as an independent state, but neither Serbia nor Russia have.

According to authorities, shots were fired “in the direction of police units, but no one was injured.” The police also alleged that irate protestors assaulted many Albanians who were driving on the blocked roads and that some cars were attacked.

Air raid sirens could be heard for more than three hours in the little hamlet of North Mitrovica, which is mostly populated by Serbs. Kosovo’s government sent special police troops and Belgrade flew fighter jets close to the border a year earlier, after local Serbs stopped the same routes over license plates.

Tensions between the two nations are at an all-time high, and a Nato operation with 3,770 troops on the ground is keeping Kosovo’s fragile peace. On Sunday, Italian peacekeepers were also sighted in and around Mitrovica.

In 2013, the two countries agreed to participate in a discussion sponsored by the European Union in order to resolve unresolved difficulties, but little progress has been made.

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