Serbia has withdrawn some troops stationed near the border with Kosovo, after having increased the numbers deployed there following a gun battle in northern Kosovo in which four people died, army commander General Milan Mojsilovic said on Monday.
Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina soared since Sept. 24, when Kosovo police near the northern Kosovo’s village of Banjska fought around 30 armed Serbs who barricaded themselves in a Serbian Orthodox monastery. Three attackers and one police officer were killed.
The skirmishes prompted new international concern over the stability in the predominantly Albanian Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after a guerrilla uprising and a 1999 NATO bombing campaign that drove out Serb security forces.
“Serbia had deployed 8,350 troops near (the border) … with Kosovo, … and reduced them to 4,500 at the moment,” Mojsilovic said.
He said the army presence in the so-called Ground Safety Zone, a 5 km-wide (3-mile) strip inside Serbia along the Kosovo border, had “reverted to normal”.