Kosovo seeks international sanctions against Serbia following killing of policeman

Kosovo seeks international sanctions against Serbia following killing of policeman
After the murder of a Kosovan policeman by Serbian gunmen along the two countries' mutual border, Kosovo has claimed Serbia was behind the attack and should thus face sanctions.
2 min read
29 September, 2023
Kosovan police were ambushed by Serbian gunmen near the border [Getty]

Kosovo on Thursday called for international sanctions against Serbia, claiming that Belgrade had supplied the weapons used by gunmen suspected of having killed a Kosovo police officer at the weekend.

The killing and an ensuing gun battle at a monastery in a village close to the Serbian border marked one of the gravest escalations in the former breakaway province in years.

"For this, Serbia should be sanctioned," Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti told lawmakers on Thursday.

If not, he added, "it will do it again".

Kurti also said that the "military arsenal of the Serbian professionals who attacked Banjska was made up of weapons from Serbia".

Kurti was referring to the weapons the Kosovo authorities claim to have seized in the northern village of Banjska during an operation carried out against the gunmen.

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According to a list published by Kurti, the haul included an armoured vehicle, grenades, AK47 rifles and rocket launchers, in all worth several million euros.

Belgrade has repeatedly rejected Pristina's accusations.

The Kosovo police officer was killed on Sunday when gunmen ambushed a patrol a few kilometres (miles) from the Serbian border.

An hours-long firefight followed between the Kosovo police and several dozen heavily armed men holed up in the monastery.

Three gunmen were killed and three were arrested, while the fate of the others remains unknown.

According to Pristina, several are hospitalised in southern Serbia.

Sunday's violence has reignited tensions between the former foes.

Animosity between Kosovo and Serbia has persisted since a war between Serbian forces under the command of the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milosevic and ethnic Albanian insurgents in the late 1990s.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Belgrade -- and its allies Moscow and Beijing -- still does not recognise.

Serbia declared the three killed men its "martyrs" and observed a day of national mourning on Wednesday, with hundreds gathering to commemorate them at the Church of Saint Sava in the capital Belgrade.

Serbian tennis star and world number 1 Novak Djokovic, shared on Instagram a photo from the gathering featuring the faces of the three killed men with three praying hands emoticons.

The United States and the European Union condemned the incident, calling on Serbia and Kosovo to take "urgent measures" to reduce the violence and work towards de-escalation.