ReutersKosovan police monitor the scene of the attack after the killing of a police officer
NOS News•today, 12:37•Changed today, 12:46
A police officer was killed in an attack by what the Kosovo government describes as heavily armed people in northern Kosovo. An officer was also injured. Much is still unclear about the circumstances.
The attackers are said to have opened fire on a police post in Banjska, more than 50 kilometers north of the capital Pristina. The officers were allegedly shot at from different sides and hand grenades were also thrown.
Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti speaks of a “terrorist attack” and says Serbia is behind it. “Organized crime, which is politically, financially and logistically supported by Belgrade, is attacking our state,” he wrote on Facebook.
The question remains whether Serbia is really behind it. According to local media, it is also possible that a criminal gang from the region, without ties to Serbia, is responsible for the officer’s death.
Serbia and Kosovo have been at loggerheads for a long time. Kosovo is a former province of Serbia, which unilaterally declared independence in 2008. About a hundred countries, including the Netherlands, recognize independence, but Serbia still considers Kosovo a Serbian province. In the late 1990s, the two countries fought a war, which ended after NATO bombed Serbian targets.
Nearly two million people live in Kosovo. About 90 percent are of Albanian descent. About 50,000 ethnic Serbs also live in the north. They do not recognize the government of Kosovo and Kosovo government institutions.
The country wants to become a member of the European Union, but has no prospect of membership yet, partly because not all EU countries recognize its independence.
The officer who was injured was treated in hospital for his arm. Kurti visited him and says a piece of shrapnel was successfully removed.
Flame in the pan
In May this year, a fire broke out in the north of Kosovo. Ethnic Serbs clashed with police and NATO peacekeepers. Dozens of NATO soldiers and Serbian demonstrators were injured.
The reason was an argument about license plates; Serbs in Northern Kosovo had to provide their cars with a Kosovo license plate, but they did not want that.
In March, the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia seemed to normalize somewhat again. After negotiations led by EU foreign policy chief Borrell, it was agreed that ethnic Serbs in Kosovo would be given some form of autonomy.