Violence at polling stations in northern Kosovo has hampered council and mayoral elections in the country.

A group of people wearing masks stormed into three voting centres in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, throwing tear gas and smashing ballot boxes.

Mayoral candidate Krstimir Pantic, who himself was attacked last week, described what happened.

(SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR OF MITROVICA, FROM CIVIC INITIATIVE "SRPSKA", KRSTIMIR PANTIC, SAYING:

"They started smashing ballot boxes, throwing ballot papers around, insulting members of the election commission, and one older woman was seriously injured, because one of the attackers hit her with chair. We heard that one woman had also been injured, her leg was broken, and this shows the bestiality and arrogance of the attackers."

Serbia had called on Serbs in northern Kosovo to take part in the election for the first time, with the EU holding out the prospect of membership talks - slated to begin in January - as a reward for Belgrade's support for the process.

But turnout by Serbian voters in the region was just seven percent- and coupled with the violence is a clear indicator of lingering resistance to integration with the rest of the country.