New skirmishes in Kosovo as NATO forces arrive in northern towns
Approximately 25 of NATO’s troops were hurt in attacks by protesters in Kosovo, which were deemed “totally unacceptable” by the alliance.
In the north, where there has been rioting over the installation of ethnic Albanian mayors, police and NATO troops engaged with Serb demonstrators.
After protesters in Zvecan attempted to break into a government building, tear gas and stun grenades were used to dissuade them.
Another security perimeter was created by NATO forces surrounding two other town halls.
The crisis began in April when ethnic Albanians gained control of local councils with a turnout of fewer than 4% as a result of Kosovo Serbs’ boycott of municipal elections.
Three NATO peacekeepers from Italy and Hungary were among those injured in the most recent fighting on Monday, a Nato official told the BBC.
According to AFP, the NATO-led troops in Zvecan initially attempted to keep demonstrators and police apart before dispersing the gathering with shields and batons.
According to the agency, a number of protestors attacked the military with rocks and Molotov bombs.
In a statement, NATO referred to the attacks as “totally unacceptable” and urged all parties to “refrain from actions that exacerbate tensions and to engage in dialogue.”
Three of the eleven Italian Nato soldiers injured in the most recent incident on Monday are in a bad condition.
In response to the new protests, Serbian President Aleksander Vucic placed the army on the highest level of battle alert. Following similar clashes, he sent army soldiers toward Kosovo’s border on Friday.
Albin Kurti, the prime minister of Kosovo, has been charged with attempting to bring about anarchy throughout the area, according to the deputy leader of the Serb List, the largest Kosovo Serb party supported by the government in Belgrade.
Igor Simic commanded, “Do not let those fake mayors enter here just because they received 50 votes.” Even Albanians are refusing to support it.
The recent unrest started after Kosovo Serbs, who make up approximately 5% of the nation’s 1.8 million inhabitants overall, abstained from the April local elections in four northern towns with a majority Serb population. This made it possible for ethnic Albanians to take over the councils.
Belgrade supported the boycott, which was started after the Serb community requested the creation of a promised association of Serbian towns and resulted in a turnout of just 3.47%.
In February 2008, Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Serbia following years of tense ties between its majority-Albanian population and Serb residents.
The United States and key members of the European Union have recognized it, but Serbia, supported by its potent ally Russia, refuses to do so, as do the majority of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo.
Despite its backing, the US has expressed disapproval of Kosovo’s decision to install the Albanian officials, claiming that it “sharply and unnecessarily escalated tensions in the region” and undermined efforts to “normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia.”