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Serbia sent the head of its army to the border amid tensions with Kosovo: they reported a shooting in the area

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a joint press conference with former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Hungarian President Katalin Novak at the Hungarian-Serbian border barrier near Kelebia, Hungary, on 15 December 2022. REUTERS/Marton Monus
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a joint press conference with former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Hungarian President Katalin Novak at the Hungarian-Serbian border barrier near Kelebia, Hungary, on 15 December 2022. REUTERS/Marton Monus

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sent the army chief to the border with Kosovo on Sunday night, where Serb villagers erected barricades in a new rise in tensions, General Milan Mojsilovic announced.

The chief of staff of the Serbian army, contacted by telephone by Pink television, declared that he was en route to Raska, 10 km from the border with Kosovo, after talking with Vucic in Belgrade.

“The tasks that have been given to the Serbian Army, and I as chief of the General Staff, are precise and clear, and will be fulfilled”, Mojsilovic told Pink television, without elaborating.

“The situation there is complicated and complex and requires the presence of the Serbian army along the administrative line,” he added, using a term used by the Serbian authorities to designate the border with Kosovo.

Serbia does not recognize the independence of its former southern province -populated mostly by ethnic Albanians- proclaimed in 2008.

“The tasks that the Serbian Army, and I as chief of the General Staff, have been given are precise and clear, and they will be fulfilled,” Mojsilovic told Pink television, without elaborating. REUTERS/Fatos Bytyci

Belgrade encourages Kosovo Serbs to challenge local authorities, while Pristina seeks to entrench its sovereignty over the entire territory.

Hundreds of Serbs have maintained roadblocks in northern Kosovo since December 10 to protest the arrest of a former Serb policeman, which paralyzed movement to two border posts with Serbia.

Shortly before the departure of General Mojsilovic, Serbian media released a video shared on social networks in which bursts of weapons are heard, stating that it is about “combats” that occurred in the early afternoon, when the Kosovar forces tried to dismantle a barricade .

The Serbian media reported, for their part, that the A shootout took place in the vicinity of Zubin Potok between the Kosovo special police and the Serbs who are on the barricades, when the Kosovar police tried to remove the blockade.

Serbian public television RTS assured that the automatic weapons firefight lasted several minutes, before calm returned.

A banner that says "Kurti, Kosovo is not your territory, it is our ancestral land" Local Serbs are seen as they stage an anti-government protest near a roadblock in Rudare, near the northern part of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica, Kosovo, December 22, 2022. REUTERS/Miodrag Draskic
A banner reading ‘Kurti, Kosovo is not your territory, it is our ancestral land’ is seen as local Serbs hold an anti-government protest near a roadblock in Rudare, near the northern part of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica, Kosovo, December 22, 2022. REUTERS/Miodrag Draskic

version was denied by the Kosovar policewhich assured on its Facebook page that its members did not participate in any shooting.

Meanwhile, news outlets in Pristina said that an International Security Force in Kosovo patrol was in the area of ​​the shooting, but that there were no injuries or damage.

In early November, hundreds of Serb police officers integrated into the Kosovar police, as well as judges, prosecutors and other officials resigned in protest of the now-suspended Pristina government’s controversial decision to ban Kosovo Serbs from using license plates. Vehicles issued in Serbia.

(with information from AFP and EFE)

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