Serbia denounces that several protesters have been shot
At least 25 members of the NATO Mission in Kosovo (KFOR) – eleven of them Italians – were injured this Monday in serious clashes with Serb protesters in the Serb-majority northern region of Kosovo, where they were to take possession this Monday the Kosovar Albanian mayors, according to the figure published by the Italian channel SkyTG24. Serbian media report 50 injured demonstrators.
The Italian Ministry of Defense has not given figures, but it has confirmed that among the injured are soldiers from Italy, Hungary and Moldova. “The Ministry of Defense and Minister Guido Crosetto want to convey their closeness and wish a speedy recovery to the Italian, Hungarian and Moldovan KFOR soldiers injured in the clashes in Kosovo,” the Italian Ministry of Defense posted on its Twitter account. .
Other Italian media report 41 KFOR soldiers injured with burns and fractures in Zvecan, one of the northern Kosovo municipalities with a Serb majority. Three of the injured are in serious condition, although their lives are not in danger.
Later, KFOR itself condemned the “unprovoked attacks against KFOR forces in northern Kosovo” and confirmed “several injuries”. “These attacks are totally unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. I ask all parties to avoid actions that could further increase the tension and participate in dialogue,” he stressed.
In addition, KFOR warns that it “will adopt all necessary measures to maintain a safe environment and will continue to act impartially, in accordance with its mandate contained in UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999.”
“I want to express my solidarity with the soldiers of the KFOR mission injured in Kosovo in the clashes between Serb demonstrators and the Kosovar Police. The Italian soldiers remain committed to peace,” the Minister of Defense said on Twitter. Italian Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani.
Also the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, has condemned the “attack” against the KFOR forces. “We will not tolerate any more attacks against KFOR. It is essential to avoid further unilateral actions by the Kosovar authorities and that all parties involved take an immediate step back, contributing to the relaxation of tensions,” she pointed out.
The wounded Italian soldiers, belonging to the 9th Alpinists Regiment of l’Aquila, are being treated for traumatisms and burns from the explosion of incendiary devices, informs the Italian Defense Staff.
For their part, Serbian media have reported that there are fifty injured among the protesters and that among them is the former mayor of Zvecan, Dragisa Milovic. One of them would be in critical condition and two more are serious.
The ‘number two’ of the Serbian Defense Ministry, Nemanja Starovic, has reported that two of the wounded in Zvecan have gunshot wounds, reports the RTS chain.
“A significant number of our compatriots who were demonstrating peacefully have been injured, which can be verified because they were sitting on the asphalt before the KFOR intervention began,” Starovic pointed out.
KFOR troops have used tear gas and stun bombs against demonstrators gathered in Zvecan to protest against the town’s new mayor, of Albanian origin. Protesters have thrown stones, bottles and even Molotov cocktails. There are a dozen cars on fire, including a police vehicle.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has warned of the “alarming” situation in Kosovo and has pointed out that “a great explosion could occur in the center of Europe.” “They have violated all the principles of the Helsinki Charter and other OSCE documents. The situation is alarming, but the West has taken the path of total subjugation of anyone who expresses their opinion,” Lavrov said from Kenya.
Instead, the US ambassador to Kosovo, Jeff Hovenier, has condemned “the violent actions of the protesters” in Zvecan and “the use of explosives against KFOR troops who want to keep the peace.”
The latest incidents stem from the local elections on April 23, in which the Serb community, the majority in the northern part of Kosovo, called for abstention. Turnout was 3.4 percent in the four Serb-majority municipalities. The inauguration of the new authorities has generated clashes that have once again put Pristina and Belgrade on guard, but also their international partners.