Home » Clashes in northern Kosovo: 25 NATO soldiers injured, 11 are Italian. “Three of them are serious”

Clashes in northern Kosovo: 25 NATO soldiers injured, 11 are Italian. “Three of them are serious”

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Clashes in northern Kosovo: 25 NATO soldiers injured, 11 are Italian.  “Three of them are serious”

The protests of the Serbian community in the three municipalities of Of can, Zubin Potok e Leposavicin the north of the Kosovoagainst the taking office of new mayors has turned into a guerrilla went on all day and which also involved the NATO military Kosovo Force (Kfor): 25 of them were injured in the violent clashes that erupted in the towns and among them there are also 11 Italians of the IX Alpini Regiment L’Aquila. Three of these are “in serious conditionbut not life threatening”, with fractures e burns due to the explosion of incendiary devices.

Inter-ethnic tensions have been registered since Monday morning, after last Friday’s clashes, when hundreds of people gathered in front of the town halls of three of the four largest Serb-majority municipalities in the country to prevent the entry of new mayors into their offices, after the elections of 23 April. The reason lies in the fact that the three politicians who have won are all from ethnic Albanian, a minority in that area of ​​the country. A result made possible by the fact that the votes of 23 April were boycotted by the Serbs: so the representatives of the 2% of the population they were called upon to administer those areas.

So the agents had to intervene riot gear of the Kosovar police, but also the military Kforthe mission Nato led by Italy which aims to guarantee security and avoid the rekindling of the inter-ethnic violence that characterized the conflict in the late 90s. The agents shot Zvecan tear gas against demonstrators who attempted to force their way into the Town Hall, while the military made use of granate stordenti. Despite the violence, Serbian List, the largest Kosovo Serb party, announced that the demonstrators will continue their protest with two requests: the new mayors will not have to enter the municipal offices and the Kosovo police units will have to withdraw from the north as soon as possible. Until they are accepted, the demonstrators will remain in garrison of the municipal offices.

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The violence went on all day, with about a thousand demonstrators involved, causing numerous injuries among both NATO soldiers and demonstrators. Among these was also an envoy from the Serbian agency Tanjughit in the legs by a stun bomb, while ai throwing stones, bottles and other objects the men in uniform responded with tear gas and beatings. A car was also set on fire.

The Serbian army has also been deployed to the border and will remain on high alert until next Friday, as explained by the defense minister, Milos Vucevic: “These units are ready to carry out any task and order that comes from the supreme commander of the Armed Forces (President Vucic who will speak to the nation around 8 pm, ndr), in the hope that a political solution will be found”. At the same time, the defense minister criticized the KFOR which, according to him, would defend the Kosovar police and the ‘usurpers of democracy’ and not of the Serbian population. The Serbian Chief of Staff, General Milan Mojsilovicspoke to the commander of the KFOR, the Italian general Angelo Michele Ristuccia, who reaffirmed the commitment of the NATO force to preserve the peace and avoid clashes with the Serbian population. And he then condemned the demonstrative actions: “The unwarranted attacks to NATO units are unacceptable and KFOR will continue to fulfill its mandate impartially”.

The violence made it necessary to hold an emergency meeting between the Kosovar premier, Albin Kurtiand the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Joseph Borrellwith the nationalist politician of Pristina who “underlined the importance that the newly elected mayors perform their duties at the service of all citizens”. The American ambassador in Pristina, Jeff Hovenierinstead met with the Kosovar president, Vjosa Osmani, stating that it is important not to use force to allow mayors to enter the municipal offices of Serbian municipalities in the north. A position, you observed, which is shared by the other countries of the Quint: France, Germania, Great Britain e Italia.

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Solidarity was expressed by the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni: “I express my firmest condemnation of the attack which took place against the KFOR mission which also involved soldiers from other nations. What is happening is absolutely unacceptable e irresponsible. We will not tolerate any further attacks. It is crucial that further unilateral actions by the Kosovan authorities are avoided and that all parties immediately step back and contribute to the easing of tensions. The Italian Government’s commitment to the peace and stability of Western Balkans is maximum and we will continue to work with our allies”. The Foreign Minister also expressed himself on Twitter, Antonio Tajani: “I want to express solidarity with the soldiers of the KFOR mission who were injured in Kosovo during the clashes between Serbian demonstrators and Kosovar police. Among them 11 Italians, three of whom are in serious condition but not life threatening. The Italian soldiers continue to commit themselves to peace”. The defense minister did the same, Guido Crosettowho expressed “closeness and wishes a speedy recovery to the Italian, Hungarian and Moldovan NATO KFOR soldiers who were injured in the clashes in Kosovo”.

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