Tensions are rising more and more in northern Kosovo. Dozens of Serbs clashed with KFOR soldiers, NATO’s peacekeeping force, as they tried to seize control of the municipal offices where ethnic Albanian mayors took office last week, with the help of the authority. 34 (not 41 as initially indicated) KFOR soldiers were wounded, including 14 Italians. Three of our compatriots are serious, but not life-threatening: they would have suffered burns and fractures. Other Italian soldiers, all of whom belonged to the 9th L’Aquila Alpine Regiment, were hit by Molotov cocktails or other incendiary devices. Three others had “open fractures”. The same agency reported that the correspondent of the Serbian agency Tanjug was hit in the legs by a deafening bomb (read also: Kosovo, Sky TG24 in Mitrovica: a city divided between Serbs and Albanians).
The clashes took place in the city of Zvekan
The incidents took place in Zvecan, 45 kilometers north of Pristina, where the Serbs first clashed with the Kosovo police. The KFOR soldiers then asked the demonstrators to make way for two vehicles of the Kosovo Police Special Forces. Faced with their refusal, the military used tear gas and stun grenades to protect Kosovo officers in vehicles and disperse protesters, according to local media. The Serbs, numbering about 300, responded by throwing stones and setting a car on fire. Therefore KFOR soldiers used batons, tear gas and deafening grenades on a massive scale. The demonstrators responded again with heavy throwing of stones, bottles and other objects. A private car was set on fire.
Wounded soldiers are assisted by KFOR medical staff
And the Defense General Staff stated, after it was confirmed that the soldiers of the Italian contingent were injured from injuries and burns as a result of the explosion of incendiary devices, that they are currently under observation by the medical personnel of the Kosovo Force, who are checking their conditions. The Chief of the Defense Staff, Giuseppe Cafu Dragone, is following the development of the situation through the Joint Operations Command and expresses his closeness to the wounded soldiers and their families.
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KFOR increased in the morning
According to some qualified sources, the situation is still tense and the most violent parties of the demonstrators are being contained. Meanwhile, the ambassadors of the quintet countries (USA, Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy) in Pristina met again today with the Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, with a request to prevent the entry of new mayors of Albanian origin into the municipality. Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavik offices. This morning NATO’s Kosovo Force has already reinforced its presence in four municipalities in northern Kosovo, calling on all parties to refrain from actions that could inflame tensions or cause an escalation.
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KFOR is urging Begrad and Pristina to engage in dialogue
The KFOR mission commander, Major General Angelo Michele Restuccia, is in close contact with his main interlocutors, including representatives of Kosovo’s security institutions and organizations, the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, as well as the IOLEX mission and others. representatives of the international community. The International Security Force in Kosovo also urged Belgrade and Pristina to engage in EU-led dialogue to reduce tensions, which is the only path to peace and normalization. “Unprovoked attacks on NATO units are unacceptable and ISFOR will continue to fulfill its mandate impartially,” Restuccia, who follows firsthand the development of the situation in Kosovo, said, expressing his solidarity with the men and women of the mission. . Instead, the Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, accused KFOR’s forces of protecting the “usurpers,” i.e. the newly elected mayors of the Northern Three Hundred from Kosovo in April elections that were boycotted by the Serb community. “But we have to protect the peace. Peace is all we have.”
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Meloni: “Unacceptable attack.” Tajani and Crozito: “Solidarity”
The Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, intervened in the clashes, expressing his “strongest condemnation of the attack against the KFOR mission, in which soldiers from other countries participated. What is happening is completely unacceptable and irresponsible.” And the prime minister specified: “We will not tolerate more attacks.” He then added: “It is necessary to avoid further unilateral actions by the Kosovo authorities and for all parties involved to immediately step back, which contributes to the easing of tensions. The commitment of the Italian government to peace and stability of Western forces in the Balkans is maximum and we will continue to work with our allies.” Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani wrote on Twitter: “I want to express our solidarity with the KFOR soldiers who were injured in Kosovo during the clashes between Serb demonstrators and the Kosovo police. Among them are 11 Italians, three of whom are in serious condition but not in danger of life. And Italian soldiers They continue to commit to peace.” Even the Ministry of Defense and Minister Crocito expressed their closeness on social media, wishing a speedy recovery to the Italian, Hungarian and Moldovan KFOR soldiers who were injured in the clashes in Kosovo.”
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NATO: “The attacks on Kfour forces are completely unacceptable”
NATO also strongly condemned the “unprovoked attacks against KFOR soldiers in northern Kosovo, which resulted in many casualties. Such attacks are totally unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. We ask all parties to refrain from actions that further inflame tensions.” and engage in dialogue.” In the NATO memorandum, “KFOR will take all necessary measures to maintain a safe and secure environment and will continue to act with integrity, in accordance with the mandate given to it by UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999.”
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