After NATO soldiers were injured in clashes in Kosovo at the end of May, the police arrested a suspected mastermind. The riots were triggered by local elections – which could now be repeated.
The Kosovan police have arrested a suspected mastermind behind the attacks on NATO soldiers in northern Kosovo at the end of May. The officers seized the head of the “Civil Protection” (Civilna Zastita) paramilitary formation in the Serb-inhabited north of the divided city of Mitrovica, Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said on his Facebook page.
The Kosovo Serb suspect is said to have organized or helped organize the attacks last month. During the arrest, there was another commotion. Violent demonstrators threw stones at the Kosovan police officers, who used tear gas against the crowd, local media reported. According to Interior Minister Svecla, three police officers were slightly injured in the clashes.
prime minister open to new elections
Meanwhile, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he was ready to call new local elections and scale back the presence of the special police in a bid to ease tensions in the north, according to Reuters. However, one of the prerequisites he mentioned was the immediate cessation of attacks by violent groups on legitimate institutions.
“The government of the Republic of Kosovo will coordinate with all actors and announce early elections in four municipalities in the north,” Kurti said at a press conference after meeting with the ambassadors of the United States, Italy, France, Germany and Britain, the so-called Quint group.
clashes after mayoral election
On May 29, Kosovo-Serb demonstrators in northern Kosovo attacked soldiers of the NATO-led security force KFOR with stun grenades and stones. 30 KFOR soldiers and around 50 Kosovo Serbs were injured in the clashes.
The KFOR unit had guarded a mayor’s office. In local elections boycotted by the Kosovo Serbs, Kosovo Albanian mayors were elected with a very low turnout.
In the north of Kosovo almost exclusively Kosovars of Serbian origin live, in the rest of the country almost exclusively Kosovars of Albanian origin. Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. Neighboring Serbia does not recognize this and is demanding the return of its former province.