“Kosovo authorities have deported a senior Serbian government official who had traveled to the north of the country, defying a ban by Pristina.

Kosovo special police units detained the head of the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica on March 26.

Officers also fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of ethnic Serbs protesting against the arrest.

Djuric was transferred to a court in Pristina, before being expelled from the country.

The incident added to already high tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the Kosovo police’s use of force and the detention of Djuric amounted to a ‘brutal provocation’ and a ‘criminal act.’

‘We will not let this go unpunished,’ Vucic said in an address aired live on Serbian media.

However, he also called on Serbs in the northern Kosovo to remain calm, and stopped short of pulling out of European Union-mediated talks on normalizing ties with Kosovo.

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci also called for calm, saying the incident ‘should not violate the communication between Kosovo and Serbia.’

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini wrote on Twitter, ‘Djuric now free on his way back. Need calm & preserve dialogue.’

The U.S. ambassador to Pristina, Greg Delawie, expressed concern over the incident, and said there was ‘no alternative’ to dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.” (RFE/RL)