Shots fired near NATO forces in northern Kosovo as tensions remain high - report

Ethnic Serbs have barricaded roads in northern Kosovo in protest against recent arrests for over two weeks.

 Kosovo Serbs block the road near the village of Rudine, North Mitrovica, Kosovo December 13, 2022 (photo credit: OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI/REUTERS)
Kosovo Serbs block the road near the village of Rudine, North Mitrovica, Kosovo December 13, 2022
(photo credit: OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI/REUTERS)

Shots were fired toward NATO forces in the town of Zubin Potok in northern Kosovo on Sunday evening, as ethnic Serbs continued to keep barriers on roads in the area in protest amid heightened tensions in the region.

Kosovo state media RTK reported that NATO's KFOR mission confirmed that shots had been fired toward one of its patrols near Zubin Potok. No injuries were reported.

Bursts of gunfire could be heard in a video published by Serbian media reportedly from the scene, with Serbian media claiming that the shooting had involved Kosovo police. Srđan Vucini, the former spokesperson of the municipality of Zubin Potok, told RTS that there had been gunfire at the barricades, but that he could not confirm who shot and where they shot from. He added that the situation at the barricades is calm.

Kosovo Police stated that its officers were not involved in any shooting in the area on Sunday evening.

Earlier on Sunday evening, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić met with Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and military officials. After the meeting, Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, General Milan Mojsilović, immediately left for the town of Raska, near the border with Kosovo.

 Kosovo police officers patrol in North Mitrovica, Kosovo December 13, 2022. (credit: OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI/REUTERS) Kosovo police officers patrol in North Mitrovica, Kosovo December 13, 2022. (credit: OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI/REUTERS)

Mojsilović stated that he could not discuss the details of the meeting, adding that "the tasks given to the Serbian Army and I are precise, clear and will be fully implemented. The situation is complex," according to the Serbian Novosti news.

The chief of staff added that the situation requires the Serbian Armed Forces along the administrative line.

Barricades set up by ethnic Serbs remain in place over two weeks later

The barricades were first set up a little over two weeks ago after a number of violent incidents in northern Kosovo and after an ethnic Serbian former police officer was arrested by Kosovar authorities.

Earlier this month, Vučić warned that Serbia intended to ask NATO to allow Serbian forces to enter Kosovo, citing Annex 2 of the UN Security Resolution 1244 which states that “an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serbian personnel will be permitted to return [to Kosovo] to perform” certain functions, including maintaining a presence at border crossings and to liaison with an international security presence.

The Serbian president added at the time that he "has no illusions and knows that they will reject that request" and that the government would consider further steps after submitting the request.

“Our fight is yet to come, we have shown every desire for a compromise, and they have done everything to make the normal life of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija impossible,” said Vučić.

In response to Vučić’s statements concerning sending troops to Kosovo, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti stressed at the time that while his country does not want conflict “we will respond to aggression with all the power we have.”