Switzerland has sent 10 police observers to Kosovo to join the United Nations police forces in the war-torn Yugoslav province. The volunteers will for the first time be armed.
The observers, consisting of nine men and one woman, are the first Swiss police observers to be sent to Kosovo. They left for the province on Tuesday.
Previously, Swiss observers were prevented from joining police forces of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) because the carrying of weapons is a condition of service in UN missions.
Earlier this year, the Swiss government lifted restrictions preventing police from carrying arms in international peacekeeping missions abroad.
The 10 observers, who will remain in Kosovo for six months, are part of efforts to reinforce the presence of civilian police observers in crisis areas.
In total, 4000 police officers from 47 different countries are in Kosovo on a UN Security Council mandate.
swissinfo with agencies