Riots in Kosovo. The Serbs blocked the roads. Gun fire. A patrol of the EU EULEX mission was attacked by a stun grenade

Tensions are rising in Kosovo. On Sunday, Serbs living in the country blocked the roads, placing heavy vehicles and trucks on them. During the night from Saturday to Sunday, there was a gunfight between the protesters and the police. Earlier, agencies say a stun grenade was thrown at EULEX mission patrols. The riots erupted in Kosovo after the arrest of a former Serbian policeman amid tensions between the authorities and the Serb minority.

In Kosovo, tensions have risen in recent weeks between the authorities and the local Serb minority, who accuse the government in Pristina of anti-Serb policies.

The latest wave of protests was sparked by the arrest on Saturday of Serbian policeman Dejan Pantic, who reportedly attacked government buildings and broke windows at the election commission office. Pantić was among a group of Serbian policemen and officers working in Kosovo after Kosovo authorities announced that Serbs must replace old car registration plates issued before the war in the Balkans that led to Kosovo’s independence.

On Saturday evening, Kosovo police said they opened fire at various locations near the border with Kosovo Serbia. It also said the officers were forced to fire in self-defence. No injuries were reported.

On Sunday, the second day of protests, demonstrators blocked several main roads leading to two border crossings with Serbia with trucks and other heavy vehicles, halting traffic at both, Reuters reported.

A roadblock on the road leading to the Serbian-Kosovo border PAP/EPA/STR

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Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurdi addresses the peacekeeping force For this In Kosovo (KFOR) to remove the barricades erected by the protesters. “We call on KFOR to guarantee freedom of movement and removal of roadblocks,” he appealed.

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wrote on Instagram that there would be “no surrender” in Kosovo, but stipulated that Belgrade would “continue to fight for peace using all available legal means.”

Kurdi responded to the post, saying that Kosovo “is not looking for war, but for dialogue and peace.” But he added: “Let me be clear: the Republic of Kosovo will defend itself with strength and determination,” Reuters reported.

The prime minister accused Serbia of trying to destabilize Kosovo and interfering with EU talks on normalizing bilateral relations. According to Kurdi, Belgrade is trying to move these negotiations to the Security Council forum UNSerbia’s position there is supportive RussiaWith the support of its traditional ally, China, AP writes.

KFOR troops in KosovoReuters Archive

Attack on patrol of EU mission

EULEX, the European Union police mission in Kosovo, which patrols the northern part of the country, said a stun grenade was thrown at one of its armored vehicles on Saturday evening. Reportedly, no one was injured.

EULEX called on those who threw the grenades to “avoid provocation” and called on the Kosovo authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

Head of EU Diplomacy Joseph Borrell “The EU will not tolerate attacks on EULEX or the use of violent criminal force” in Kosovo.

Tensions rise in the Balkans

As the AP reports, the war of words between Serbia and Kosovo is escalating. AFP notes that tensions have risen over the past week over local elections scheduled for December 16 in Kosovo. President Vijoza Usmani was forced to move it to April 23.

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday that Belgrade will ask the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) to send Serbian soldiers and police there. As AP writes on Sunday, it is unlikely that KFOR will agree to this, as it would effectively hand over security oversight of northern Kosovo to the Serbs, further inflaming the situation.

Serbia lost control of Kosovo after a 1999 NATO military campaign and refused to recognize the former province’s declaration of independence in 2008. Almost 120,000 people live in Kosovo with a population of about 1.8 million. Serbs.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/STR

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