DEVELOPING STORYDEVELOPING STORY,
Kosovo PM describes the incident near border as ‘terrorist action’ backed by officials from neighbouring Serbia.
One Kosovar police officer has been killed and another injured in a shooting in a village in the north of Kosovo in the first such violence in months that Prime Minister Albin Kurti blamed on having support from neighbouring Serbia.
Kurti said “masked professionals armed with heavy weapons” opened fire on a police patrol in the village of Banjska, Leposavic, 55km (35 miles) north of the capital, Pristina, at 3am (01:00 GMT) on Sunday.
“Organized crime, which is politically, financially and logistically supported from Belgrade, is attacking our state,” Kurti wrote on his Facebook page. “The government of the Republic of Kosovo and its state institutions are ready and coordinated to respond to crime and criminals, terror and terrorists.”
Separately, police said they “were attacked from several different positions with an arsenal of firearms” during an armed attack on a patrol as it approached a blocked road near the border with Serbia. The attackers were also reportedly armed with hand grenades and shoulder-fired missiles.
Serbia has not yet commented on the incident and the accusation.
Tensions have been smouldering for months in the former Serbian province following Kosovo’s decision to install ethnic Albanian mayors in four Serb-majority municipalities last May.
The decision ignited clashes that left more than 90 NATO peacekeeping soldiers and some 50 Serb protesters injured in northern Kosovo.
Ethnic Albanians form more than 90 percent of the population in Kosovo, with Serbs being the majority only in its northern region, near the Serbian border, where a Serb-majority municipalities association is planned.
European Union-sponsored talks on normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, two former wartime foes, stalled again last week, with the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell blaming Kurti for failing to set up the association of Serb-majority municipalities, which would give them more autonomy.