Kosovo’s prime minister on Sunday mentioned one police officer was killed and one other wounded in an assault he blamed on help from neighboring Serbia, growing tensions between the 2 former battle foes at a fragile second of their European Union-facilitated dialogue to normalize ties.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti mentioned “masked professionals armed with heavy weapons” opened hearth on a police patrol within the village of Banjska, in Leposavic municipality, 55 kilometers (35 miles) north of the capital Pristina at 3 a.m. (1 a.m. GMT).
Kosovo police mentioned two vans with out license plates blocked a bridge on the entrance to the village. Three police models had been despatched to unblock it however got here below hearth from completely different positions with varied weapons, together with hand grenades and bombs.
Police managed to push again the assault and take two injured cops on the hospital in southern Mitrovica.
One in every of them was lifeless on arrival, docs mentioned. The situation of the opposite isn’t life-threatening.
Talking after a gathering of the nation’s Safety Council Sunday, Kurti mentioned it was a “unhappy day” for Kosovo and named the lifeless police officer as Afrim Bunjaku.
The prime minister displayed a set of images which confirmed a variety of four-wheel drive automobiles with out license plates and an armored personnel service “which doesn’t belong to the Kosovo police,” close to the Orthodox monastery in Banjska.
There was ongoing gunfire from what he described as a bunch of no less than 30 army professionals, masked and closely armed.
“It’s clear that these uniformed individuals, no less than 30, are an organized skilled unit who’ve come to combat in Kosovo,” he mentioned, calling on them at hand themselves over to the Kosovar authorities.
Most of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority lives in 4 municipalities round Mitrovica, within the north.
Studies in Kosovo Serb media mentioned residents of Banjska had been woken by shootings and explosions within the evening.
“It was an actual little battle: first some gunfire, then silence, shootings, detonations,” Serbian Kossev information company quoted an unidentified resident as saying.
Serbian media mentioned each native roads and crossings with Serbia had been blocked.
“Organized crime, which is politically, financially and logistically supported from Belgrade, is attacking our state,” Kurti wrote on his Fb web page.
Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani, who’s in New York on the United Nations Normal Meeting, denounced the killing.
“Such assaults testify as soon as once more to the destabilizing energy of the prison bands organized from Serbia which for a very long time … are destabilizing Kosovo and the area,” she mentioned.
In an announcement, the U.S. ambassador in Pristina “strongly condemns the orchestrated, violent assaults on the Kosovo Police this morning,” including that “the Kosovo Police has full and bonafide duty for implementing the rule of legislation in response to the structure and legal guidelines of Kosovo.”
Serbia’s parliamentary speaker Vladimir Orlic mentioned Kurti “was fast accountable the Serbs,” including that Kurti was the one who needed an “escalation.”
“He (Kurti) mentioned it was some form of organized motion by professionals,” Orlic advised native Prva tv station. “They will need to have been recognized and he is aware of who they’re and what they’re, and every thing is obvious.”
Earlier this month, an EU-facilitated dialogue assembly in Brussels between Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic led to acrimony. Washington has absolutely supported the negotiations and the stance of the EU.