Shots near NATO patrol: Serbia sends army chief to Kosovo border

Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia are increasing.

Shots near NATO patrol: Serbia sends army chief to Kosovo border

Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia are increasing. After shots were fired near a NATO security force in northern Kosovo, Serbia sent the chief of staff to the border. The Serbian army has a "precise, clear" task.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sent the army's chief of staff to the border with Kosovo on Sunday evening. The tasks given to the Serbian army are "precise, clear" and will be "completely implemented," General Mojsilovic told Pink TV after his meeting with Vucic in Belgrade. The situation on the border is "complicated and complex" and requires "the presence of the Serbian army in the coming period".

Kosovo, with its majority Albanian population, declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but is still considered a breakaway territory by Belgrade. Just a few years ago, both countries fought a bloody war. Despite the EU's attempts at dialogue, they have repeatedly been at odds for years. Belgrade is encouraging the Serb minority in northern Kosovo in their attempts to defy Pristina's authority.

Tensions on the border with Serbia increased again in December. Shots fired at police officers at night and an attack on the EU mission EULEX with a stun grenade had raised international concerns.

Several shots were also fired near a NATO patrol in northern Kosovo. No one was injured and the car was undamaged when the shots were heard in the Zubin Potok area, the NATO security force KFOR said on Sunday. KFOR did not say where the shots came from. About 3,760 NATO troops maintain the fragile peace in the region.

Shortly before the army chief left for the border area, several Serbian media also circulated a video shared on online networks in which gunshots could be heard. According to them, these were "fights" that took place in the early evening. The Kosovan armed forces allegedly tried to dismantle a barricade previously erected by Serbs.

This was immediately denied by the Kosovar police. She said on her Facebook page that none of her employees were involved in any firefight. Instead, according to Kosovar media, a patrol from the Kosovo Peacekeeping Force (KFOR) was in the firing zone. The NATO-led mission increased its presence in the region just a few days ago. She initially did not comment on the incident.

There has been tension in northern Kosovo for years. The approximately 50,000 Serbs there do not recognize the state institutions. The latest protests were sparked by the arrest of a former Serbian police officer. Around 50,000 Serbs set up roadblocks in the region. They are demanding the release of the arrested police officer and further commitments before removing the barricades. The Kosovo government has asked KFOR to remove the barricades.

In view of the growing tensions in northern Kosovo, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic recently warned of an escalation of the situation. "We are really on the verge of armed conflict," she said in Belgrade last week. She blamed the government in Pristina for the tensions.