By John Robles
There are reports in the Serbian media and international news outlets that US KFOR troops have opened fire on unarmed Serbs in Northern Kosovo and there are wounded.
The reports are as follows and are being sent to me by my Serbian sources, apparently KFOR attempted to remove a barricade on a bridge and opened fire on Serb protestors. According to reports by the local Serbian KIM Radio inured civilians are being taken to Kosovska Mitrovica Hospital
According to Reuters at least five Kosovo Serbs and one NATO soldier were wounded in the armed clashes which occurred after NATO (KFOR) forces tried to remove road barricades.
NATO forces fired tear gas and opened fire on Serbian protesters, however, it is not clear if these were just warning shots. There are hundreds of Serbs gathered at the barricades in near Zvecan where the Serbs are the majority.
According to a report in Serbian media a NATO spokesperson in Kosovo, Uwe Nowitzki sated that “If needed KFOR will respond defensively.”
A more detailed report transmitted by the Serbian daily Kurir states that all of the roadblocks that lead to Zvecan including the large concrete barricade in Dudino are in rubble and were removed by KFOR this morning. According to the people gathered in Dudino Karst, KFOR used heavy machinery to remove the barricades. Kosovo Serbs have also set up a concrete barricade on the road to the southern Kosovo Mitrovica to prevent the passage of special units of the Kosovo police, The infamous “Rosa” SWAT units.
The Serbian Daily Kurir reports that the Zvecan situation remains extremely tense and that there are a large number of citizens on the bridge that leads to the barricades in Rudare. KFOR is on the other side of the bridge and has set up barbed wire and heavy equipment is not allowing citizens across the bridge. The whole village of Rudare is under a lockdown and citizens are afraid to leave their homes and helicopters constantly fly over the area and drop “infrared bait” to block possible missile attacks from the ground.
12:42 – KIM Radio cites the Director of the Kosovska Mitrovica Hospital, Milan Jakovljevic, as saying that injured Serbs from Zvecan are still being brought to the hospital. Some have been released and at least 3 are undergoing treatment.
12:40 – Negotiations are currently underway between American KFOR officers and the mayors of Zvecan and Zubin Potok reports KiM radio.
12:12 – The commander of the police station in Gracanica, Bratislav Trajkovic told KIM Radio that the situation in his part of Kosovo is currently calm.
12:08 – The Government of Kosovo has promised to release a statement sometime today regarding the developments in Northern Kosovo but has so far not done so.
12:03 – Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi does not want to comment on developments in the north. KIM Radio said briefly that the information should be sought from KFOR.
11:57 – KFOR broke through the barricade in Malom Rudaru and continued advancing toward the barricade in Velikom Rudaru reports Beta.
11:56 – The Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanovic called on KFOR to refrain from the use of force and strictly adheres to and operate within its mandate, and asked the Serbs to remain calm and not to fall for provocations.
11:38 – KFOR spokesperson Uwe Nowicki confirmed to Tanjug that during the action of removing the barricades around Rudaru (Miners) one KFOR soldier was injured.
10:49 – An American KFOR officer talked to the mayor of Zvecan, Dragisa Milovic and of Zubin Potok, Slavisa Ristic, and the hospital director Milena Cvetkovic after which the mayors appealed to citizens not to throw stones, because otherwise KFOR would open fire. State Secretary for Kosovo and Metohija Oliver Ivanovic said he did not understand what started the current KFOR action reports (B92).
10:27 – KFOR used tear gas on Serbs gathered around the barricades in place Dudin Kres, KIM Radio has learned.
10:25 – Three injured Serbs from Zvecan were taken to Kosovska Mitrovica Hospital with one of them in serious condition. One has a bullet wound in the thigh and is undergoing surgery KIM Radioreports citing the Head of the Hospital, Milan Jakovljevic.
10:17 – KFOR announced that this morning began an operation to remove the roadblocks in the vicinity of Malo and Veliki Rudaru with the aim of improving freedom of movement. “From 8:40 pm KFOR conducted an operation to remove the roadblocks in the vicinity of the Rudarus. This activity aims to encourage free movement, not only for KFOR, but also international organizations and all citizens of Kosovo”, said a statement submitted to KIM Radio by KFOR.
10:14 – KFOR helicopters are constantly flying over the area above the conflict, and at the end of the bridge to the village of Rudaru a transporter is blocking the road. On the Zvecan side of the bridge a large number of citizens have were gathered along with representatives of the local government in Kosovska Mitrovica and Zvecan, Krstimir Pantic and Dragisa Milovic.
Members of American KFOR did not allow injured to be taken to the emergency room of Kosovska Mitrovica according to reports. Witnesses, the media and Mayor Milović said KFOR Lieutenant Joseph Lynch did not allow the passage of injured to the emergency room or the passing of local government representatives.
09:56 – A KIM Radio reporter said he saw injured being taken away from the scene by car. Other sources say that at least three people were admitted to the hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica.
09:41 – KFOR has placed a roadblock on the bridge between Zvecan and Rudaru.
09:25 – Armoured machinery of KFOR removes a concrete barricade on the bridge in Rudaru. Prior to removing the roadblocks tear gas was fired at about 500 citizens gathered around the bridge reports a KiM radio reporter from the scene who also said they used rubber bullets and live ammunition.
09:10 – The incident began when the KFOR soldiers attempted to remove the barricade near Rudaru and Zvecan.
Reports from independent (VOR) sources, local media, Serbian KIM Radio, and Reuters were used in this report.