The American news agency Associated Press (AP) reported that it is “highly unlikely” that KFOR will grant Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s request presented to Quint ambassadors on Tuesday in Belgrade for it to take over security matters in the north of Kosovo instead of Kosovo Prime Minister “Albin Kurti’s police.”
However, AP reported that “there was no immediate reaction from NATO to Vucic’s request, but it is highly unlikely to be granted because the primary role of the (4,500) troops is peacekeeping, not policing.”
The agency reported that “Vucic, a pro-Russian politician, has often spoken against NATO and its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, blaming them for allegedly failing to protect minority Serbs from Kosovo Albanian harassment.”
It said that Vucic has asked for KFOR to take over security matters in the north of Kosovo because, on Sunday, “a daylong shootout between armed Serbs and Kosovar police left one officer and three gunmen dead,” which was “one of the worst confrontations since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.”
“The violence further raised tensions in the Balkan region at a time when European Union and U.S. mediators have been pushing for a deal that would normalize ties between former wartime foes Serbia and Kosovo,” reported AP.
The agency said Kurti “accused the Serbian government on Sunday of logistically supporting ‘the terrorist, criminal, professional unit’ that fired on Kosovo Police officers,” while “Vucic denied the allegations, saying the gunmen were local Kosovo Serbs ‘who no longer want to withstand Kurti’s terror.’”
AP reported that US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill said after the meeting with Vucic that the latest case of violence was a very serious event and that “the concern is, of course, that it could get even worse.”
“We really deeply regret the loss of life and frankly, we condemn the killing of the Kosovo police officer,” Hill said.
The Ambassador said it is “very important to know what happened but equally important to move the political and diplomatic process, which I think really needs to be strengthened in the days and months ahead.”
The agency also reported that Vucic said in an Instagram post that these are “one of the hardest moments for Serbia,” adding that “the government proclaimed Wednesday as a day of mourning because of ‘the tragic events,’ referring to the shootout.’”
The Serb List – “a Kosovo Serb party allied with Vucic proclaimed three days of mourning starting Tuesday in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo for the three killed Serb assailants,” reported AP.
It said that Kosovo Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla claimed Tuesday that “the leader of the Serb gunmen who killed the Kosovo police officer is Milan Radoicic, a close ally of Vucic’s who was sanctioned by the U.S. and Britain for alleged criminal activities.”
“Radoicic, a shady businessman, is deputy leader of a pro-Vucic Kosovo Serb party that has been calling the shots in northern Kosovo,” reported AP, adding that the Kosovo Minister “also claimed that Radoicic was wounded in the shootout and undergoing treatment at a Belgrade hospital.”