| 1 December 2023, Friday |

Serbs in Kosovo mourn those killed in monastery shootout

On Tuesday, the biggest political party representing Serbs in northern Kosovo proclaimed three days of mourning for those slain in a gun fight with Kosovo police at a monastery, following the deadliest violence in the contested territory in years.

According to Kosovo officials, some 30 heavily armed Serbs assaulted Banjska on Sunday, assaulting police and barricading themselves inside the Serbian Orthodox monastery. After three terrorists and one police officer were slain, police reclaimed the monastery late Sunday.

The gunfight has renewed worldwide worry about the stability of Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority and declared independence from Serbia in 2008 following a guerrilla rebellion and a NATO intervention in 1999.

Belgrade has never recognized the independence of its former province. Around 50,000 ethnic Serbs in the north reject rule from Pristina.

No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack or explain the motives of the gunmen.

Kosovo has accused Serbia of backing the armed militants; Serbia says Kosovo is to blame for mistreating residents in the Serb-majority area.

The Serb List party said all entertainment would be cancelled and flags lowered to half staff during the period of mourning from Tuesday to Thursday.

Serbia itself declared Wednesday a day of mourning “due to the tragic events”, without explicitly endorsing the gunmen or their grievances.

“Serbia has no problem to say it condemns the murder of an (Kosovo) Albanian policeman, but we cannot remain mute, deaf and blind to the persecution and killing of Serbian people in Kosovo,” Defence Minister Milos Vucevic said in Belgrade after meeting his Norwegian counterpart Bjoern Arild Gram.

  • Reuters