Kosovo expected to declare independence from Serbia on Sunday

A decade after Serbia sent in troops to crush a rebellion, Kosovo prepared to declare independence on Sunday - a bold and historic move to carve a new country out of a corner of Europe long bloodied by ethnic strife. By sidestepping the UN and appealing directly to the US and other nations for recognition, Kosovo's independence set up a showdown with Serbia - outraged at the imminent loss of its territory - and Russia, which warned that it would set a dangerous precedent for separatist groups worldwide. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army whose ethnic Albanian guerrillas clashed with Serb troops in a 1998-99 conflict that claimed 10,000 lives, was expected to convene an extraordinary session of parliament Sunday afternoon to proclaim the Republic of Kosovo. On the eve of the Serbian province's bid for statehood, Thaci hailed it as "a historic day in our effort to create a state."