The United States urged the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to refrain from actions and statements that would further inflame tensions.
Pristina and Belgrade must immediately de-escalate the situation, return to security and the rule of law and dialogue with the mediation of the European Union, said the statement of the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the occasion of the armed clash in the village of Banska and in the Orthodox monastery of the same name in Severno Kosovo. And on behalf of Washington, he condemned yesterday’s attack in which a Kosovo policeman was killed, BNR reported.
In the dramatic events yesterday, which lasted nearly 12 hours, three of the attackers against the police were also killed. The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, claimed that there were about 30 of them in total, well armed and with armored vehicles. Kurti blamed the shooting on the Serbian authorities: “Organized crime, supported politically, financially and logistically by financial Belgrade, is attacking our country. In this battle, we are defending the legitimacy and the citizens of independent Kosovo, regardless of their ethnicity.”
From Belgrade, the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, confirmed that the attackers were Serbs, but they were not sent by anyone, but were local – Kosovo Serbs. However, it was not they who were to blame for another dangerous rise in tension in Northern Kosovo, but Kurti, who pushed them to violence with his actions:
“All the time they are provoking, they are provoking. It is a pity that some of the Serbs there were misled by these provocations. Albin Kurti is the only culprit, the only one who wants clashes and war. No one else wants them. His life’s dream is to involve us at war with NATO”.
After accusing part of the international community in this address last night of giving carte blanche to the Kosovo prime minister to massacre Serbs, today Vucic defiantly met with the Russian ambassador in Belgrade, Botsan-Kharchenko, and informed him that Kurti was carrying out “brutal ethnic cleansing”.
Today, the Kosovo police entered Banska with armored cars and began a thorough search for attackers remaining there. For six, Pristina claims that they managed to escape to the territory of Serbia. Journalists are not allowed in the village. However, a large number of heavy and light firearms, explosives and uniforms were found.
A day of mourning was declared in Pristina in memory of the murdered police officer Afrim Bunyaku