One Serb and six policemen were injured as a result of clashes between officers and residents of two towns in the north of Kosovo. The riots were triggered during an operation against smugglers.
Reuters agency said on Wednesday that police used tear gas to disperse a hostile mob that had surrounded officers carrying out an operation aimed at smugglers. The policemen checked the goods in shops and pharmacies, demanding to show documentation confirming the legal source of their origin. The clashes took place in Mitrovica (inhabited mainly by the Serb population), as well as in nearby Zveczan.
In a statement issued, Kosovo police said that protesters in Mitrovica had used hand grenades and stun grenades against officers. As a result of the clashes, one Serb was shot, and six Kosovar policemen were also injured.
Serbian state television showed videos of people fleeing tear gas and cars set on fire, saying several people had been injured. Petar Petković, a member of the Serbian government responsible for what are considered to be parts of Serbia, Kosovo and Metochia, responded by saying that “among the dozens of wounded, there is one shot man who is fighting for his life in the hospital.”
“I warn the citizens of northern Mitrovica against those media in Serbia that want to protect crime, corruption and smuggling, and create a political topic from today’s police action,” Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti wrote on his Facebook profile.
As a result of a nationwide police action against a group of smugglers, eight people were arrested, including three in the north of the country, where the police encountered an aggressive response from local residents, the Serbian agency Tanjug reported.
Appeal to NATO and the KFOR peacekeepers
Referring to the events in the north of Kosovo, Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of Serbia called on NATO and KFOR international peacekeeping troops stationed in Kosovo for quick reaction. – The situation is more than dramatic and this is the last moment to stop Pristina’s insane politics. Such behavior brings us to the brink of the abyss, said the head of government, quoted by Tanjug.
The head of diplomacy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, called on both sides to quickly return to the ongoing dialogue. “Violence in the north of Kosovo must stop. Unilateral and uncoordinated actions threaten stability and are unacceptable. We are in contact with Belgrade and Pristina,” Borrell wrote on Twitter.
Kosovo, a former southern province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008, but the country’s four northern municipalities are still mostly inhabited by non-governmental Serbs in Pristina.
Main photo source: Reuters