After riots in Kosovo, NATO sends hundreds of additional soldiers. 30 members of NATO troops had previously been injured.
After violent riots in Kosovo, NATO sends hundreds of additional soldiers to Kosovo. This was announced by the reserve command in Naples on Twitter.
Accordingly, the deployment of a battalion of the so-called Operational Reserve Forces (ORF) was decided. Another multinational battalion of reserve forces had been placed on increased operational readiness. A battalion consists of 300 to 1,000 soldiers.
Militant Serbs engaged in street battles with a unit of NATO-led KFOR in Zvečan on Monday afternoon. 30 soldiers from the Kosovo Protection Force (KFOR) were injured, including 19 Hungarians and 11 Italians. Among other things, they suffered broken bones and burns, as the troops announced in Pristina on Tuesday. Read more about the riots here.
“KFOR has (…) responded to the unprovoked attacks of a violent and dangerous crowd,” the statement said. According to the hospital in the nearby town of Mitrovica, 53 Serbs were injured.
The Serbs are protesting against the assumption of office by several new mayors in Zvečan and other communities that come from the Albanian ethnic group. The mayors had been elected the previous month, with almost all Serbs boycotting the municipal elections. Voter turnout was therefore less than four percent.
Serbian municipal officials resigned last November in protest against the government in Pristina. At the time, they tried to get the Serbs in the north to equip their vehicles with Kosovar license plates instead of Serbian ones.
clashes on Monday
The clashes in Zvečan erupted on Monday when KFOR troops used tear gas to disperse a violent crowd. The militant Serbs threw incendiary devices, stones and bottles at the international security forces. In northern Kosovo almost exclusively Serbs live, in the rest of the country almost exclusively Albanians.
Unrest broke out in Zvečan last Friday when the Kosovar police escorted the new mayor to the municipal office. The KFOR troops eventually took the place of the Kosovo Police to secure the office buildings.
Kosovo blames Serbia
Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti blamed neighboring Serbia for the riots. Most of the demonstrators in the north are “a bunch of extremists under the guidance of official Belgrade,” he said on Monday, according to his office, in a conversation with five Western ambassadors, including Germany’s. Last Friday, the foreign ministries of these five countries condemned the actions of the Kosovar police in Zvečan.
The conflicts in northern Kosovo have dragged on for years since Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared its independence in 2008. To this day, Serbia has not recognized this step and is demanding the country back. After an armed uprising by the Kosovar Albanians and a NATO intervention against Serbia in 1999, the UN administration Unmik managed the country. KFOR was commissioned by the UN in 1999 to ensure security in Kosovo. It still has about 3,800 soldiers stationed there today, including almost 70 Germans.