On Friday, in northern Kosovo, Kosovo police disbanded Serbs to protest the takeover of mayorships by Albanians. The city councilors were appointed following local elections organized by Kosovo authorities on April 23, which were boycotted in four Serb-dominated municipalities – with only 1,500 voters participating out of about 45,000 registered voters.
According to an AFP journalist, clashes first broke out between Serbian demonstrators and police in front of Svegn Town Hall. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, while stun grenades caused explosions. Gunshots can also be heard in videos posted on social media.
A dozen people were treated for minor injuries at a hospital in the northern part of the divided city of Mitrovica, said the agency’s deputy director, Danica Radomirovic. According to the same sources, at least one police car was damaged.
Serbian National Television (RTS) reported that security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in the two municipalities of Lebošavic and Zubin Potok. Serbs set up barricades near Lebozavic, RDS added.
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“Maximum Alert Level”
In Belgrade, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić ordered the army to be on “maximum alert” once last December due to tensions with Kosovo, as has happened several times in recent years, and the border of this former Serbian province is “moving” in the direction, announced the RTS.
Kosovo police did not comment on the latest incidents, only confirming in a statement that they had assisted in the inauguration of new mayors in three of the four municipalities involved.
Flu outbreaks are frequent in the north of Kosovo, a former Serb province that declared independence in 2008 and is not recognized by Serbia. Serbs are encouraged by Belgrade to challenge Kosovar authorities who seek to assert their sovereignty over the entire territory.
The municipal elections came a month after the European Union announced a deal on normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina during a meeting in Ohrid, North Macedonia, but neither party signed it.
To move forward in this dialogue, Belgrade is calling for the establishment of a “Confederation of Serbian Municipalities” that would enjoy a form of autonomy and unite some 120,000 Serbs from Kosovo, a country of 1.8 million people. Mostly Albanian.
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