PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo’s prime minister on Wednesday requested NATO-led peacekeepers to extend their presence on the northern border with Serbia, saying the world was the entry level for unlawful weapons and threats to stability.
“Such an elevated presence needs to be targeted in guarding the border between Kosovo and Serbia the place all Serbia’s weaponry has arrived from and the risk to Kosovo comes,” Prime Minister Albin Kurti instructed Maj. Gen. Ozgan Ulutas, the brand new commander of the Kosovo Power mission, or KFOR.
Kurti has repeatedly mentioned Kosovo police can not absolutely guard the 350-kilometer (220 mile) lengthy border with Serbia and its many unlawful crossings utilized by criminals.
On Sept. 24, round 30 Serb gunmen crossed into northern Kosovo, killing a police officer and establishing barricades, earlier than launching an hours-long gun battle with Kosovo police. Three gunmen had been killed.
The incident despatched tensions hovering within the area.
Kosovo has a restricted variety of regulation enforcement officers in its 4 northern municipalities the place many of the ethnic Serb minority lives, after Kosovo Serb police walked out of their jobs final 12 months.
Fearing an escalation, NATO has bolstered KFOR, which usually has a troop energy of 4,500, with an extra 200 troops from the U.Ok. and greater than 100 from Romania. It additionally despatched heavier armaments to beef up the peacekeepers’ fight energy.
KFOR, which is made up of peacekeepers from 27 nations, has been in Kosovo since June 1999, principally with gentle armament and automobiles. The 1998-1999 warfare between Serbia and Kosovo ended after a 78-day NATO bombing marketing campaign compelled Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo. Greater than 10,000 folks died, largely Kosovo Albanians.
The worldwide stress has elevated just lately over the implementation of a 10-point plan put ahead by the European Union in February to finish months of political crises. Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic gave their approval on the time, however with some reservations that haven’t been resolved.
The EU-facilitated dialogue, which started in 2011, has yielded few outcomes.
Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008 — a transfer that Belgrade refuses to acknowledge.