The incident began in the early hours of Sunday morning, just before three o’clock. The location of the incident is the predominantly Serb-inhabited community of Zvecan in northern Kosovo.
In the Banjska district, a group of Serbs set up a road barricade consisting of two trucks in front of a bridge. The Kosovo police arrived, then there was a shootout. One police officer was killed and another was injured.
The attackers are said to be around 30 people. It was initially unclear who it was. According to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, they were professional Serbian fighters: “There are at least 30 heavily armed people who do this professionally, i.e. military or police officers. They continue to attack our police officers even after they killed Afrim Bunjaku and injured Alban Rashit. ”
Attackers barricaded themselves in the monastery
The fighting continued and moved to the nearby Serbian Orthodox monastery of Banjska. Some of the attackers barricaded themselves in the area, the Kosovo police positioned themselves in front of the monastery walls.
Prime Minister Kurti released aerial photos at a press conference that were supposed to show the attackers. In one of the photos, four masked people with rifles can be seen wearing dark green uniforms and bulletproof vests. They stand next to a jeep and an armored vehicle.
For the Kosovo Prime Minister, this is proof that the Serbian government in Belgrade had a hand in it: “We condemn this criminal terrorist attack. Our country is under attack, with political, financial and logistical support from the officials in Belgrade.”
Serbia’s president denies allegations
In the evening, the person addressed, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, spoke up – as expected, with a completely different account of the events. The attackers were Serbs from Kosovo, normal citizens, said Vucic: “They had neither Serbian military nor Serbian police uniforms.” Uniforms can be bought in stores anywhere. There are also no weapons that cannot be obtained somewhere.
A total of four deaths and six arrests
Vucic said the attackers were angry about the police violence they were subjected to every day in Kosovo: “It was only a matter of time before those who were being persecuted by the police would do something for themselves and their families.” At the same time, Vucic condemns the killing of a police officer, which must be punished. “That doesn’t help anyone. But Prime Minister Kurti is the main organizer of the chaos in Kosovo. His life’s dream is to drag us into the conflict with NATO.”
The NATO soldiers from the KFOR peacekeeping force stationed in Kosovo held back. A KFOR press release said it was monitoring the situation and providing support if necessary, but that the Kosovo Police were the first instance responsible for bringing the situation under control.
The shooting ended after hours on Sunday evening. In addition to the police officer, three attackers were killed. At least six people were arrested.