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Kosovo: attack against police in Banjska, three attackers killed and five arrested

Another member of the group was arrested, as well as four other suspects in possession of communication tools, identity documents, weapons and ammunition


© Agenzia Nova - Reproduction reserved

Three of the attackers responsible for the attack which occurred this morning around 3am (local time) in Banjska, in northern Kosovo, in which a police sergeant died and a border guard officer was injured, were killed. This was announced by the Kosovar police, as reported by the portal "reporteri.net". Another member of the group was arrested, as well as four other suspects in possession of communication tools, identity documents, weapons and ammunition. Furthermore, the total number of injured officers has now risen to three. After the attack, the criminal group, which is said to be made up of around thirty heavily armed people, barricaded itself in the local Serbian Orthodox monastery. In a statement from the eparchy of Ras and Prizren we read that the group "of armed men with covered faces" made their way into the monastery area "using an armored vehicle with which they forced the closed gate". The eparchy added that, at the time of the raid, a group of faithful, now trapped, were inside the monastery. The site is surrounded by the Kosovar police forces, who for security reasons have also ordered the closure of the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings, on the border with Serbia.

In a press conference following a meeting of the country's Security Council after this morning's events, Kurti said the group was made up of "professionals - military or police officers – who are under siege by our police forces and who I urge to surrender”. The head of the Pristina government showed photos of the area showing men in military gear and with their faces covered near the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Banjska. “The security authorities and the judiciary will investigate to understand who these men in uniform are who, as you can see, in addition to the jeeps also have an armored vehicle,” Kurti reported. In a message on Facebook this morning, the prime minister described the attack on the police as "criminal and terrorist". He also explicitly accused Serbia of being behind the incident. “Organized crime, with the political, financial and logistical support of Belgrade, is attacking our state. In this fight, we defend and enforce the law, protect and preserve the citizens of an independent Kosovo,” Kurti added.

The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, spoke of an attack “planned, orchestrated and executed by Serbian criminal gangs” which constitutes “an attack on law and order in the north of the country”. These episodes “testify once again that criminal groups organized by Serbia aim to destabilize Kosovo and the region”. These are “attacks against the sovereignty” of Kosovo, Osmani added. “I expect our allies to support Kosovo in its effort to establish order and preserve sovereignty in every part of the country,” reads a Facebook message from the head of state. On The Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic, “resorted to unprecedented aggression against Kosovo. It will fail,” Vela continued.

The President of the Serbian Parliament, Vladimir Orlic, commented on the accusations to the broadcaster "Prva TV", denouncing that Kurti predictably "immediately rushed to accuse the Serbs, to say that it was some kind of organized action and that it was carried out by professionals". Orlic then rejected the accusations: if one is looking for someone responsible for any type of violence, he said, "it is exclusively Kurti and everyone knows it". “Everything he did in recent months, with the brutal terror unleashed against the Serbian people, was carried out precisely because he wanted an open escalation and because he wanted to provoke some episodes of violence,” added the president of the Belgrade Parliament . The director of the Serbian government's office for Kosovo Petar Petkovic was supposed to hold a press conference on the incident in the early afternoon but it was cancelled. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will speak at 20pm.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell he said the EU condemns “in the strongest possible terms” the horrific attack. All the facts concerning him "must be clarified and those responsible must face justice", added Borrell. The High Representative also said that “innocent lives are in danger” due to hostilities in the vicinity of the Orthodox monastery of Banjska. “These attacks must stop,” he declared. This was echoed by the EU special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, stating that "violence in any form is absolutely unacceptable". “Everyone needs to return to dialogue immediately,” Lajcak added. The NATO-led mission in Kosovo (KFOR) also strongly condemned the attack on Kosovo police and said it was closely monitoring the situation in Banjska. “KFOR troops are present in the area and are ready to react if necessary,” a mission statement said. “The Kosovo Police, as the first intervention force, has primary responsibility for managing the incident. The KFOR commander is in close and constant contact with all international parties involved, including the European Union, the Chief of Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces and the Kosovo institutions, and is working intensely to find a solution", continues the declaration.


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