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Tensions persist in northern Kosovo, Serbs seek to fire Albanian mayors

Rallies are taking place again this Tuesday, May 30, the day after clashes which left around thirty wounded in the ranks of the NATO force in Kosovo (KFOR). Serbia has never recognized the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province.

Kosovo is preparing for a new day of tension. This Tuesday, May 30, Serb demonstrators flock again to the town hall of the town of Zvecan, a small town in the north of the country. Soldiers in riot gear from KFOR, the international force led by NATO in Kosovo, placed a metal barrier around the town hall to prevent several hundred Serbs from accessing it. Three Kfor armored vehicles were also deployed. And thus avoid violence.

Because the day before, the rally organized by the Serb protesters degenerated. Thirty members of the international force led by NATO in Kosovo (KFOR) were injured in clashes with demonstrators demanding the departure of Albanian mayors.

For the past few days, the situation has once again been very tense in northern Kosovo, where many members of the majority Serb community in four towns in this region do not recognize the authority of Pristina and are loyal to Belgrade. The Serbs boycotted the April municipal elections in these localities, which resulted in the election of Albanian mayors with a turnout of less than 3.5%.

These elected officials were inducted last week by the government of Albin Kurti, the Prime Minister of this territory largely populated by Albanians, ignoring the calls for appeasement launched by the European Union and the United States. .

The Serb demonstrators are now demanding the withdrawal of the new Albanian mayors but also of the Kosovo police forces, which they have come up against. On Monday afternoon, KFOR soldiers, armed with shields and sticks, initially tried to separate the two sides before starting to disperse the crowd. Who responded by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers before being pushed back several hundred meters from the town hall of Zvecan.

According to the Hungarian Defense Ministry, more than 20 Hungarian soldiers are among the injured, seven of whom were seriously injured. Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani tweeted that 11 Italian soldiers were injured. At least 52 Serbs were also injured in these incidents, three of them seriously, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in Belgrade.

These attacks were described as “totally unacceptable” by NATO in Brussels, adding that “the violence must stop immediately”. This Tuesday morning, the Kfor force issued a statement stating that “11 Italian soldiers and 19 from the Hungarian contingent suffered multiple injuries, including broken bones and burns caused by incendiary improvised explosive devices” and “including three Hungarian soldiers [ ...] injured by the use of firearms”. France "condemns this violence in the strongest terms," the French foreign ministry said in a statement, calling on Belgrade and Pristina to return "to the negotiating table with an attitude of compromise."

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