Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Sunday morning started a visit to the north of Kosovo in spite of an incident in which a bomb was thrown at a building in Zubin Potok where he was expected to hold a speech later in the day, promising that he would protect Serbia's national and economic interests in Kosovo.

During a tour of the mining complex Trepca, Vucic said that "a strong Serbia is not afraid of anything" and that the government in Belgrade would do everything possible to protect its citizens and national and economic interests in Kosovo.

This was Vucic's seventh visit to Kosovo in the last four years.

Around 3 am on Sunday, a bomb was thrown and machine-gun fire was opened at the sports hall in Zubin Potok, the venue of a rally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, to be addressed by Vucic.

"Serbia must be strong, free and united... It is important that we have strong influence in the world's capitals. Only a strong Serbia can protect its interests and its people in Kosovo and Metohija," said Vucic, noting that he was not intimidated by the attack in Zubin Potok.

He described the mining complex Trepca as "the backbone of the survival of the Serb people in Kosovo", noting, amid chants of "Trepca is Serbia", that Serbia would insist in talks with Kosovo that negotiations on property continue, and announcing the possibility that the government in Pristina "could pass a law to transform Trepca into the public property of the so-called Republic of Kosovo."

He stressed that Trepca was the biggest company in northern Kosovo and that it contributed to the entire Serbia as well as that his government, together with the management of Trepca, would save the company.

Serbia will oppose the company's transformation into Kosovo state property, he said.

"We will insists in Brussels... and make it clear that we will not allow it... I hope that Pristina and the (EU) will be wise enough to understand it," the Belgrade media cited Vucic as saying.

The media in Pristina reported today about Vucic's visit to the north of Kosovo, and Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said the visit had been approved by the Foreign Ministry and that posters with welcome messages were displayed in the north of Kosovo.

A campaign has been under way in Serbia for early elections set to be held on April 24. The country is run by a caretaker government.

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