Serbian forces in full alert as Kosovo amid rising tension after anti-smuggling operation

epa07607386 Kosovo's police special unit secure the area near the village of Cabra, northern Kosovo, 28 May 2019. Two police officers were wounded as local Serbs resisted the major anti-smuggling operation, where dozens people were arrested in Serb dominated northern part of the country. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

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Serbia ordered its security forces on full alert on Tuesday after police in neighbouring Kosovo mounted an anti-smuggling operation in a northern region of the country populated mainly by Serbs.

Balkan Insight reports how Kosovo Police said that the 19 policemen who have been arrested will be held in custody for 48 hours after Tuesday morning’s operation, which sparked outbreaks of unrest in Serb-majority northern Kosovo and triggered angry reactions from Belgrade.

Of the 19 policemen in custody, 11 are Serbs, four are Kosovo Albanians and four are Bosnians, it was announced at a joint press conference by the Kosovo police, prosecution and Police Inspectorate.

“Eleven guns, phones and money have been confiscated,” said Rashit Qalaj, the director of Kosovo Police.

Euronews reports that the move came amid rising tension in four Serb-populated municipalities in Kosovo’s north, which remains largely outside control of Pristina and pledges allegiance to Belgrade.

“Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Monday acknowledged Belgrade had lost control over Kosovo, its former southern province, but warned it would react if Kosovo attacked Serbs there.

In the Kosovan operation, police arrested dozens of officers on Tuesday, including ethnic Serbs, accused of smuggling goods into the country. They said police had faced “armed resistance” and one policeman was wounded.

Serbian state RTS TV reported two Serbs were also wounded during the police action.”

Via Euronews / Balkan Insights

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