Injured in clashes between KFOR forces and Serbs in Kosovo

As of: 05/29/2023 9:23 p.m

Several people were injured in clashes in northern Kosovo between KFOR soldiers and Serb militants. The Serbs protested against new Albanian mayors.

Several people have been injured during protests by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and clashes with KFOR forces. The soldiers of the NATO-led protection force used stun grenades and tear gas in the village of Zvecan. The protesting crowd in turn threw stones, bottles and other objects at them, local media reported.

A Serb was shot and wounded, according to the hospital in the nearby town of Mitrovica. Other Serbs are said to have suffered minor injuries in the clashes, eyewitnesses said. According to KFOR, 25 soldiers from Hungary and Italy were injured among the security forces. According to the information, they suffered fractures and burns, among other things.

Serbs don’t recognize new mayors

The protests in Zvecan and other towns in northern Kosovo were directed against new Albanian mayors who were elected in April and have now taken over their duties. Almost all Serbs in the region boycotted the elections, which is why the winners came from the Albanian parties. The previous Serbian mayors resigned their positions in November 2022 in protest against the policies of the Kosovar government.

Around 300 KFOR soldiers were supposed to secure the municipal office in Zvecan while the Kosovar police escorted the new mayor to his official residence. A larger group of demonstrators also gathered. According to a reporter from the dpa news agency, the situation escalated when the crowd tried to stop the police vehicles from driving away. The KFOR soldiers then broke up the meeting.

Serbian politicians in northern Kosovo are demanding the resignation of the new mayor. In addition, the Kosovar special police should leave the area. These demands were also sent to KFOR and the embassies of other countries.

Serbia was already putting the army on standby

The Serb minority of the otherwise predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo lives mainly in the north of the country – there, however, the Serbs form the majority. Again and again there are tensions and clashes. Many Serbs do not recognize Kosovo and its government and want to belong to neighboring Serbia. Kosovo split from Serbia in 2008 – but Serbia continues to regard Kosovo as a Serbian province.

The Serbian army on the border with Kosovo was put on increased alert on Friday. Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said the military would be ready “to carry out any task and any order”. He hopes for a political solution. He accused KFOR of “protecting the police from unarmed people”.

In Kosovo, Serb demonstrators have tried to prevent newly elected mayors from taking office.

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