ISSN 2330-717X

21 NATO Soldiers Injured In Kosovo Serb Violence

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By Fatmir Aliu

Serbs in volatile North Kosovo attacked NATO peacekeepers in KFOR, injuring 21, after they moved to dismantle a Serb barricade.

It is not clear how many Kosovo Serbs were injured, but local media reported that many had been admitted in the hospital with injuries.

A KFOR spokesperson, Frank Martin, told Balkan Insight that violence erupted shortly after midnight on Wednesday when angry Serbs massed to stop peacekeepers from removing a roadblock on the road from Mitrovica to the Serbian border at Jarinje.

KFOR began the operation shortly after 11pm, seizing the barricade, but at midnight more Serb protesters gathered, supported by trucks.

“The demonstrators used force, including the throwing of stones, and pushed back KFOR troops by attacking them with trucks loaded with gravel.

“KFOR troops were forced to fire warning shots into the air in addition to which KFOR also used teargas and batons for self-protection against the protesters”, Martin told Balkan Insight.

To prevent further escalation of the dispute, KFOR halted the military operation and abandoned the barricade to the protesters.

The KFOR spokesperson said that this decision was taken “not to risk serious casualties on both sides, therefore KFOR took the responsible decision to stop the operation.

“KFOR can confirm that 21 soldiers suffered injuries,” he added.

Serbs have been manning barricades in North Kosovo for months, protesting against the deployment of Kosovo government officials on border crossings with Serbia.

Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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