Kosovo police units withdraw from Serb municipalities

Eren Beksac and Talha Ozturk


Kosovo police units withdrew on Tuesday from northern Serb municipalities.

Tensions had resurfaced following the detention of one of the organizers of an attack on May 29 on NATO’s peacekeeping force (KFOR) who were deployed amid Serb unrest over the installation of ethnic Albanian mayors in their area.

Serbs gathered in Northern Mitrovica and tried to prevent the Kosovo police from operating, and three officers were slightly injured in the ensuing clash.

KFOR soldiers on Tuesday demanded the withdrawal of Kosovo police units.

Following the request, the units withdrew in the direction of the Bosnian district with their armored vehicles.

“Kosovo police detained Milun Milenkovic-Llune, one of the leaders of the criminal organization ‘Civil Defense’ and the leader of criminal gangs that have been terrorizing our citizens for years, attacking members of the Kosovo police and the institutions of the Republic,” said Kosovo Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla.

Milenkovic-Llune is among the main organizers of the attacks against KFOR forces and Kosovo police in Zvecan, Svecla added.

Kosovo police are not allowing vehicles to pass from the Bosnian quarter at the North Mitrovica entrance.

Police also advised journalists not to go to Northern Mitrovica, as they could not guarantee their safety.

Tensions have risen in Kosovo following the election of ethnic Albanian mayors in four Serb-dominated municipalities in the country’s north last month.

Ethnic Serbs have been protesting the election of the mayors since late May.

On May 29, at least 30 KFOR soldiers were injured in clashes with Serbs who were protesting and attempting to prevent the newly-elected mayor of Zvecan municipality from entering the town hall to take the oath of office and begin official responsibilities.

According to hospital sources, more than 53 civilians were also injured by shock bombs and tear gas.

Police in Kosovo also said that at least five people were detained following the clashes.

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