Serbia ordered its troops to full alert on May 28 after heavily armed Kosovo police had entered Serb-populated regions of in the northern part of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (northern Kosovo) and made several arrests.
Serbia’s state TV reported that shots were heard and tear gas was used as Kosovo’s special police “burst into” one of the villages with armored vehicles early in the morning. The Kosovo force involved in the tension reportedly includes at least 73 vehicles.
The region involved in the tensions is located on the contact line between the area controlled by Serbia and Kosovo forces. It is 90 percent populated by Serbs, who refuse to be part of the self-proclamed Republic of Kosovo.
The municipality of Zubin Potok is reportedly one of the places of tensions. Locals are reportedly building a kind of barricades to prevent Kosovo forces vehicles from moving through the area.
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj confirmed the action. Via Twitter, he claimed that an “anti-smuggling and organized crime operation” is underway in the area. Kosovo ‘authorities’ said at least two policemen were injured during the action.
Serbian sources described claims about the anti-smuggling and anti-crime operaton as nonsense. Different reports say that from 10 to 13 people were detained by Kosovo forces. A Russian member of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo was among detained persons.
Serbian government official Marko Djuric said the Kosovo forces action is designed to intimidate and expel Serbs from Kosovo and presents “not only a threat to stability but the most direct threat to peace.”
“If this doesn’t stop immediately, there is no doubt how Serbia will react already during the day,” Djuric warned.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says that if Kosvo does not halt his activities, his country will be forced to act.
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