Deadly Ethnic Standoff Rocks Serbian-Kosovo Border: One Policeman, Three Gunmen Killed

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Gripping tension swept across the Serbian-Kosovo border when a deadly stand-off involving ethnic Serb gunmen and police took place in northern Kosovo. The Serbian Orthodox monastery in the Banjska village was the epicenter of this deadly siege, tragically resulting in the death of one policeman and three gunmen.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti of Kosovo placed the blame squarely on Serbia, charging them with backing the armed faction. In response, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic pointed fingers at Kosovo officials for bearing the ultimate responsibility of the fatal events. The President confessed that those killed were indeed Kosovo Serbs, thus escalating the feud.

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This sadly marks one of the most grievous flare-ups observed in Kosovo over the years, a region plagued by enduring friction between Serbia and Kosovo.

Despite Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, Serbia, supported by its allies China and Russia, does not recognize it as an independent entity. A considerable number of Serbs view Kosovo as their national cradle. However, the jurisdiction’s demography reveals that 92% of about 1.8 million residents are ethnic Albanians, with ethnic Serbs making up a mere 6%.

Tension reached its climax when local authorities reported the tense standoff that started around 03:00 local time. Kosovan police found around 30 gunmen heavily armed had staged themselves inside the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Banjska. The armed men were eliminated in intermittent battles throughout the day, with Kosovo’s interior minister, Xhelal Svecla, describing the action as a “clearance operation”. Six people were subsequently apprehended, and a substantial cache of weapons was seized.

Interestingly, the Serbian Orthodox Church reported that by the time night fell, the gunmen had evacuated the monastery.

A narrative unfolded, revealing that the fatal police shooting preceded the monastery’s occupation. Prime Minister Kurti laid bare his belief that the incursion was executed by “Serbia-sponsored criminals.” He labelled efforts from Belgrade as calculated provocations that financed and motivated these professional criminals with police and military backgrounds.

Rejecting these accusations, Serbia’s President Vucic pointed back at Mr Kurti as being responsible, accusing him of deliberately provoking tensions.

Aiming to quell the unrest, Nato deployed an additional 700 troops to Kosovo. This measure was taken following some violent protests in the northern town Zvecan in reaction to disputed local elections in May.

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