Violent incidents escalate in north of Kosovo, EU urges their immediate stop

Injured, arrested and barricades as the Kosovo Police launched an operation against smuggling of goods to several locations in Kosovo, including municipalities in the north of the country on Wednesday. Local Serbs in North Mitrovica and Zvecan opposed the move, and police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, reported evropaelire.org.

Six police officers suffered bodily injuries, ten residents of North Mitrovica sought medical help, and eight people were arrested and escorted to police stations. This is the epilogue of an action against smuggling of goods organized by the Kosovo Police and Customs, which was met with opposition in North Mitrovica and Zvecan. The action against smuggling took place in the region of Pristina, Peja, South Mitrovica and North Mitrovica.

"While in all other regions the police operation went smoothly, in North Mitrovica organized criminal groups have gathered, created roadblocks with various means of transport, used gas cylinders, shock bombs, gunshots fire and hand grenades, in order to prevent and attack customs and police officers, who have been on duty ", it is said in the notification of the Kosovo Police and it is added that the situation in the northern part of Mitrovica has calmed down.

Kosovo Police announced that they have also identified five people suspected of being involved in smuggling and who have been declared wanted.

"Kosovo Police in cooperation and coordination with the judiciary are conducting intensive investigations to identify other suspects involved in smuggling of goods, but also in criminal acts and attacks with dangerous means; firearms committed "to police and customs officials today during the operation," the statement said.

Meanwhile, ten persons of Serbian origin have sought medical assistance in the hospital of North Mitrovica. Eight people have been released from the hospital, while two have been detained for treatment, Zlatan Ellek, director of the Health Center in this municipality, told Radio Free Europe.

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti said in a post on Facebook that these police actions have been preceded by intensive investigations and are by order and coordinated with the competent prosecutions and courts.

"Goods and other evidence were seized that also present material evidence," said Kurti. He added that "we will fight and prevent smuggling."

In the meantime High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter that the violent incidents in the north of Kosovo need to stop immediately. He stressed that unilateral and uncoordinated actions that endanger stability are unacceptable. “All open issues must be addressed through the EU – facilitated Dialogue. We are in contact with Belgrade and Pristina,” Borell said on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić requested the engagement of NATO, KFOR, and the international community. The President of Serbia headed to Raška, where he will meet with representatives of Serbs from the north of Kosovo at around 3 pm on Wednesday.

This new wave of protests comes after the dispute on the license plates was resolved by Pristina and Belgrade thanks to the mediation of Brussels. / Argumentum.al