Some 40 people have been injured in today's border clash Kosovo Police and Serbian citizens who attempted to enter Kosovo at Merdare border crossing.
Kosovo Police refused to allow members of Crvena Zvezda support group Delije, know for their nationalism, to enter Kosovo, which ignited the clash. 20 Kosovo Police officers and roughly the same number of Serbs were injured. Gunshots were also reported, but nobody has been wounded.
I think this is the most serious incident that happened in Kosovo in recent years. The number of injured is the highest in recent years, and this is the first large-scale clash between Serbian citizens from Serbia and Kosovo Police. Given the hardline turn in Serbian politics, this incident could easily escalate.
I just checked B92 and RTS for the whole story.
According to B92:
A bus of people was on it's way to Gazimestan (just outside Pristina), the place where in 1389 the Battle of Kosovo was fought between the Serbian Empire and the Ottoman Empire to commemorate Vidovdan (St. Vitius Day), a religious holiday and the holiday of many important events in Serbian history. They crossed the border but on their way the police stopped them and told them to leave at another border crossing, at which the altercation then ensued.
One person was shot in his lower body area (lumbar or small pelvis) and was taken to Nis for emergency surgery. Several other people were also injured by live ammo.
The incident according to B92
What "Kosovo's Interior Minister" says:"“One person with life-threatening injuries was taken by ambulance from Prokuplje to Niš, Kuršumlija Health Center Director Ljiljana Arsenijević told Tanjug.
She said the Emergency Room treated 20 people with bullet wounds inflicted at Merdare.
Ten people were treated at the scene, while another ten with more serious injuries were treated at the healthcare center. Five of them were later taken by ambulance to the surgical ward of the Dr Aleksa Savić Hospital in Prokuplje."
According to RTS (link below), unofficial sources told them that the group of people crossed the administrative line into Kosovo at Jarinje without any problems at around half past 4 this morning, and was stopped by Kosovo Police at Vucitrn, who asked them for a confirmation of Kosovar insurance for their vehicles, which they didn't have. The police then promised to escort them to Gazimestan, but in turn escorted them to the Merdare Border crossing, at which point the passengers complained and demanded an explanation as to why they weren't, as promised, guided to their destination, but instead to the border crossing to leave, at which point the police tried to use batons to get them back into the buses/vehicles. At that point, other passengers exited their buses, and at around 8 o'clock it came to an altercation in which the police, next to batons, also used firearms.“We pushed back a group known as Delije, who are known nationalists. Several police officers were hurt, mostly from being hit by rocks,” said [Kosovo's Interior Minister] Rexhepi.
He added that shots from firearms were heard from the direction of Serbia.
Beta news agency has reported that the attacked people were Partizan fans. The remaining, uninjured fans were taken over by the Serbian police and returned to central Serbia.
The Serbian police told Tanjug earlier that the incidents occurred when a group of Serbs, who had crossed the administrative line in Rudnica and Jarinje early on Thursday, was stopped by the Kosovo police in Vučitrn, demanding they return through Merdare to central Serbia.
The Merdare administrative crossing is closed for traffic.
I just composed a map for a quick overview, Green is the point of entry, blue is the point where they were stopped and told to leave, orange is the destination they were headed for, and red the point of attempted exit.
According to German news, 13 Serbs were injured by bullets/gunfire:
In other news (no need for a new thread), the (multiethnic) police checkpoint in southern Serbia near the administrative line to Kosovo, which was attacked a few weeks/months ago (I reported it here), was attacked yet again. This time 5 police officers were at the station. At 4 in the morning, during the shift change a group of attackers shot at the checkpoint for a few minutes, the police returned fire and the attackers escaped back over the border to Kosovo. One police officer was injured. Most of the bullets were stopped by the sandbag barricade which was put up since the last attack.
Short video where the checkpoint, damages and the surrounding area can be seen, looks like they beefed up defenses since the last attack, there's sandbags, assault rifles and a machine gun ready to answer any attack.
Good map Hyde, great for situation overview. Kosovo Police's action seems odd, stopping the bus at the border seemed logical so I didn't dig deeper.
So the current casualties are 20 Serbs, 13 with gunshot wounds, 20 Kosovo Police officers with unspecified injuries, and one Serbian Police officer (presumably gunshot wound).
Worse than I thought, no gunshot wounds were reported in Croatian media. Attack on the Police checkpoint in uncontested Serbia will add a lot of fuel to the fire, especially if the injured officer is seriousley wounded.
Hope everyone gets through and recovers.
Asking for any required insurance cartons at the border is logical, not asking at the border crossing but instead stopping vehicles in the middle of the country (a few km's before the last de-route from the place where they're headed) and looking for reasons to prevent them from attending is not. Those who made it through the insurance-card and other tricks and didn't give them a reason to be prevented from moving further, were subjected to searches and anything except for plain Serbian flags was confiscted. From the news I read it sounds that there were other buses at the same border crossing, so it looks like they have prevented quite a lot of buses from ever reaching their target and a lot people from attending the commemoration. Who knows how many buses and cars were prevented from ever reaching their intended target, with that little set-up of intercept -> come up with a reason -> send or escort them away to a border crossing (in hopes that once they're there, they'll cross it and give up the idea that they came for in the first place) -> prevent Serbs from attending (and in future, hopefully, holding) a commemoration of their national holiday at an important historic site -> step closer to erasing any remembrance of Kosovo as Serbian land -> profit.
The Serbian police officer is unrelated to this incident however. I just added that at the end as other news, since I came across it when researching this story.
The police officer was hit in his back, he was standing in front of the station when the attack occured, and was hit by a bullet that ricocheted.
At least 10 persons of Serbian nationality were injured in an attack on busses when they were passing through Pristina on their way back from attending the commemoration.
That's what I meant. Even if the goal was to just turn Serbs back, from a purely logistical standpoint, they should've just turned them back at the border, chasing them around the country strikes me as a needles waste of resources. That said, I agree that extreme elements like Grobari or Delije should be turned back. Law abiding citizens should be allowed through.
I understand that the Serbian Police officer shooting is unrelated, but it happened on the same day and will serve to increase tensions more than it would have if it happened on some other day.
So right now, we have 3 incidents: a clash on arrival of Serbs, an attack on a Serbian Police checkpoint, and an attack on Serbs when they were leaving Kosovo.
Has there been any word from Serbian government?
New video online (scroll down a bit). Albanian Kosovo Police searching buses, charging at people (driving them into a ditch), confiscating and throwing away Serbian flags, all males were forced to take their shirts off.... imagine if on the Albanian holiday were the Albanians in Presevo and Bujanovac hang up their flags the Serbian police would be taking away their flags and throwing them on the ground, searching their vehicles and them, forcing them all to take off their shirts...
In the attacks on the buses were 16 people were hurt, molotow cocktail were used as well.
If 13 people were hurt by shooting from the police in Syria, the news would be full of it.
Journalists from the Bosnian RTRS were also harrassed and their shirts taken away. The explanation of the police was that:
"in Kosovo and Metohija you can not wear t-shirts printed in Cyrillic, or with some other country's emblem on it, nor any word that is associated with Serbia."
"Today we visited Gazimestan, but we were met by Kosovo police, they took away our shirts and told us that we can only stay in Gazimestan to 14.00 hours," said Mihajlovic.
The official explanation is that they were taking away shirts because they "incite ethnic hatred" and are in contradictions with legal regulations.
As to reactions from Serbia, it seems that they were busy today as they are forming a government.
The new prime minister Ivica Dacic (formerly the Interior Minister) said:
(Google translation: )
"St. Vitus is a holiday for the Serbian people, and for each Vidovdan incidents are happening in Kosovo and Metohija. If the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija can not mark St. Vitus Day - a day of great Serbian suffering, then the question is how can one ensure the peaceful life of the Serbs in Kosovo, "he said.
"You know that in Kosovo there aren't our security forces, but the new Serbian government, if formed, will insist on this. All conversations held on Kosovo and Metohija must assume that preserve peace," Dacic said.
"Vidovdan je veliki praznik za srpski narod i za svaki Vidovdan se dešavaju incidenti na Kosovu i Metohiji. Ako srpski narod na Kosovu i Metohiji ne može da obeleži Vidovdan - dan velikog srpskog stradanja, onda se postavlja pitanje kako neko može da obezbedi miran život Srba na Kosovu", rekao je on.
"Vi znate da na Kosovu i Metohiji ne postoje naše bezbednosne snage, ali nova vlada Republike Srbije, ako bude formirana, insistiraće upravo na tome. Svi razgovori koji se vode o Kosovu i Metohiji, moraju da polaze od toga da se sačuva mir", rekao je Dačić.
There's a new video now, you can see the insides of the busses that were attacked with bricks and molotov cocktails, there's shattered glass, blood and bricks. And interesting to see the victims. Some young guy got hit by a brick and talks about what happened. At the end you can see Dacic say what is transcribed above.
Last edited by Hyde; 06-28-2012 at 02:16 PM.
The KPS may have new American and German polic uniforms but it is still the same onld KLA behind them. Albanians know that if they kill or attack Serbs nothing will happen so why stop the attacks? On Vidovdan Serbs are not safe in their own country.Where wa EULEX ?
It would all been good if those people shouldn`t start shouting "Smrt Siptarima"-Death to Albanians and started started throwing rocks and stuff at the police at border crossing .But this is what happens every year at this particular date,nothing common.
It was just a bunch of drunken football fans.
Our police are too soft against these hooligans and listen to Dacic he knows exactly what Serbs like to hear, just as his mentor Milosevic once taught him.