Kosovo: NATO Fires On Serb Protesters
Russian Information Agency Novosti
June 1, 2012
Four Injured as Kosovo Serbs Clash with NATO Troops
Moscow: Three Serbs and one KFOR soldier were injured in clashes in northern Kosovo on Friday.
According to Serbia’s RTS TV channel, the three Serbs were injured when KFOR troops fired rubber bullets. One Serb has been hospitalized in serious condition. Local authorities said there was reason to believe KFOR troops had fired live bullets.
Hundreds of Serbs clashed with KFOR troops in armoured vehicles near a barricade outside the town of Zvecan in a Serb-dominated northern area of Kosovo, pelting them with stones.
Kosovo’s ethnic Serb enclave in the north of Kosovo barricaded the main roads after the authorities in Pristina installed customs officers at the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings with Serbia. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign country.
B92/Beta News Agency/Tanjug News Agency
June 1, 2012
Serbs clash with KFOR in northern Kosovo
ZVEČAN: KFOR troops removed all barricades near Zvečan, including the concrete barricade in the village of Dudin Krš on Friday.
At least three persons were injured when northern Kosovo Serbs clashed with KFOR at the barricade in the village of Rudare.
KFOR troops threw teargas at Serbs who were trying to get to the barricade in the village of Dudin Krš.
KFOR helicopters are flying over the area and a KFOR transporter is parked at a bridge in Malo Rudare.
Kosovska Mitrovica and Zvečan local self-government representatives Krstmir Pantić and Dragiša Milović were among the large number of citizens who gathered at the scene.
Pantić told B92 that he was worried about the fact that KFOR troops were using live ammunition and that there was a large number of injured Serbs.
“We have managed to transport three young men to the Kosovska Mitrovica Health Center in an ambulance, however, another three young men who are injured are left behind KFOR lines and they do not allow the ambulance to get to the scene and help the injured,” he said.
Other injured people were treated at the scene.
According to him, KFOR started shooting at Serbs without any reason or warning.
He said that there were around 1,000 people near the barricade and that KFOR would start shooting as soon as they saw someone approaching the barricade.
“They even ignored UNMIK representatives’ warning to allow ambulance to go through,” Pantić explained.
Beta news agency has learnt that three injured men were admitted to the Kosovska Mitrovica hospital. One of them was discharged after he had received the medical help.
KFOR Spokesman Uwe Nowitzki told Tanjug that one of their soldiers was wounded during today’s operation of removing the barricade near Rudare.
“The soldier was evacuated and his condition is stable,” Nowitzki said.
“We will not let the situation to further escalate and we will use adequate force if needed,” the KFOR spokesman concluded.
The citizens announced earlier on Friday that they would prevent KFOR from removing the barricades.
June 1, 2012
Kosovo Serbs clash with NATO forces over roadblocks, 4 injured
At least three Serbs and one NATO soldier were injured in a gunfight in Northern Kosovo as NATO Kosovo Force attempted to dismantle Serb roadblocks.
Reports said soldiers from the NATO-led contingent had fired rubber bullets or live rounds and tear gas after rioters threw stones at a roadblock near the town of Zvecan in a Serb-dominated northern area of Kosovo.
Oliver Ivanovic, the official dealing with Kosovo in Serbia’s outgoing government, said three Serbs had been injured.
“One KFOR [Kosovo Force] soldier has been wounded, has been evacuated and he is stable,” said NATO spokesperson in Kosovo Uwe Nowitzki, as quoted by Reuters.
Several hundred Serbs have reportedly gathered in the village of Rudare to protect barricades, and fighting began when KFOR troops in armored personnel carriers moved in.
A Reuters witness said KFOR troops from Germany and the US received reinforcements after initial clashes and were deployed on hills overlooking Rudare. Several NATO helicopters were also flying over the area.
Dragisa Milovic, the mayor of Zvecan, said KFOR had refused to allow Serb medical personnel to help wounded Serbs.
“A [KFOR] commander told me they have the authority to use deadly force on anyone who throws a stone or uses a weapon,” he told Reuters.
Health authorities in the Serb-controlled north of the city of Mitrovica said a number of people also received minor injuries.
Serbians began setting up road blocks in the area last year to prevent the ethnic Albanian government in Kosovo’s capital from extending control over the Serb-dominated region.
KFOR said it had started removing roadblocks to “improve freedom of movement” for both its troops and the citizens.
This is not the first incident between Serbs and KFOR soldiers.
At least two Kosovan Serbs and two NATO peacekeepers were injured in a wave of violence in northern Kosovo in November 2011, casting doubts on whether the conflict could be resolved in the near future.
At least 10 people were injured earlier in September, 2011 in clashes at the Jarinje checkpoint in northern Kosovo.
B92/Beta News Agency
June 1, 2012
President, PM hold emergency meeting on Kosovo
BELGRADE: Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolić, outgoing Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković and several ministers held an emergency meeting on incidents in Kosovo on Friday.
Beta news agency has learned that Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac, Justice Minister Snežana Malović and Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović attended the meeting with the president and the PM.
They left the Serbian Presidency headquarters a little after 12:30 CET but did not give any statements to the media.
KFOR started removing barricades near Zvečan on Friday morning. At least three Serbs and one KFOR soldier were injured in the incident that broke out.
The NATO troops removed the barricades in the villages of Rudare and Dudin Krš and blocked all roads leading to the barricades.
The roadblocks were put up by the citizens after last year’s attempt by the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština to take over two administrative checkpoints in the north.
Serbs are the majority population north of the Ibar River and reject the authority of the government in Priština, as well as the unilateral declaration of independence made over four years ago by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians.
Tanjug News Agency
June 1, 2012
Minister urges KFOR to refrain from violence
BELGRADE: Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović called on KFOR on Friday to refrain from using force.
He also urged KFOR to adhere strictly to its mandate and on the Serbs to stay calm and ignore provocations.
Commenting on an incident near Rudare, northern Kosovo, where there was gunfire and four people were injured, Bogdanović appealed to all sides to refrain from violence.
“It is very important to reduce tension as soon as possible, normalize the situation and solve all problems through dialogue, and not force,” he told Tanjug.
“Right now, everyone has to understand that the situation is very volatile,” Bogdanović stressed.
“That is why I call on KFOR, but also on the Serbs in the north, to keep in mind that fact and for each side to show maximum restraint when it comes to taking risky actions. Any escalation of conflict can lead us into a spiral of violence with unimaginable consequences,” the minister concluded.