British troops were put on standby to deploy at short notice to Kosovo amid fears of new violence in the Balkans after its parliament unanimously endorsed a declaration of independence from Serbia.

The Ministry of Defence last night said 600 troops from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards would form part of a quick reaction force which could be sent to the region in an emergency.

The move came after tension emerged in some areas as thousands of Kosovans took to the streets of the capital Pristina yesterday to celebrate the announcement of independence.

Kosovo's move has been backed by the US and key European allies but is bitterly contested by Serbia and Russia.

Two grenades were thrown at international community buildings yesterday in the Kosovo Serb stronghold city of Mitrovica. One exploded at a United Nations court building while the other failed to go off outside offices expected to house the new EU mission. No-one was injured.

Protesters also pelted the US embassy in Belgrade after Serbia's prime minister Vojislav Kostunica denounced the US for helping create a "false state" by backing Kosovo's independence.

French troops of the Nato-led peacekeeping force KFOR prepared concrete and wire barriers to close off the bridges dividing Albanians and Serbs in Mitrovica in case of clashes.

International recognition for Kosovo could come as soon as today when EU foreign ministers, including Foreign Secretary David Miliband, meet in Belgium to discuss a response to the situation.

Yesterday's independence announcement came a decade after a separatist war in the former Yugoslavia claimed 10,000 lives.

Kosovo has formally remained a part of Serbia even though it has been administered by the UN and Nato since 1999 when Nato airstrikes ended former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists that drove nearly a million people from their homes.

The province is still protected by 16,000 Nato-led troops.