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Two Serbs Injured In Shooting In Southern Kosovo

By RFE/RL's Balkan Service January 07, 2023

Two people were injured on January 6 in a shooting in a town in southern Kosovo that has a majority Serb population, officials in Kosovo and Serbia said.

The victims are an 11-year-old boy and a 21-year-old man who were carrying oak branches, a tradition for Orthodox Serbs on Christmas Eve, when they were shot. They were hospitalized and their lives are not in danger, authorities said.

A 33-year-old man identified by the initials A.K. was arrested.

Defense Minister Armend Mehaj said on Facebook that the man was a member of the Kosovar security forces.

The case "will be treated according to the regulations and laws we have in force in the Ministry of Defense and Security," Mehaj said, adding his deepest regret for what happened and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

"Cases like this are isolated, but as such they dare not happen," he said. "The Ministry of Defense and the Security Force of Kosovo remain committed to serving our citizens regardless."

The suspect was transferred to the regional police in Urosevac, and the police said the gun used in the shooting had been found.

The shooting happened around 3:20 p.m. local time in the town of Strpce, when shots were fired from a moving car that police said then fled the scene.

Local Serbs blocked traffic on a regional road in protest shortly after the shooting, but the road was later clear.

Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti condemned the shooting, saying that he is concerned and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

"I unequivocally condemn the assault on two Kosovar citizens today in Strpce. A suspect has been arrested & will be dealt w/ promptly & fairly by our justice system," he said on Twitter, commending Kosovar police for their "quick action & full engagement in ensuring the safety of all, w/o discrimination."

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic also condemned the violence and asked the international community to act immediately.

"This is another in a series of dreadful incidents demonstrating the gravity of conditions in which Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija live every day," Brnabic said on Twitter.

The shooting was also condemned by EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, who said that he was shocked by the attack.

"There can be no justification for any violence." Varhelyi said on Twitter, wishing the victims a speedy recovery.

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina often run high, and just last week in northern Kosovo barricades that were set up in early December blocking roads leading to the main border crossings with Serbia were to be dismantled following calls by the United States and the European Union.

Kosovo, which has an overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian majority, broke away from Serbia after a war in 1998-99. It declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade has never recognized it and encourages Kosovo's 120,000 ethnic Serbs to defy the central Kosovar government's authority.

Northern Kosovo, where ethnic Serbs are a majority, has been on edge since November, when hundreds of ethnic Serb policemen, judges, and prosecutors walked off the job in protest at a decision by Pristina to ban the Belgrade-issued license plates inside Kosovo.

With reporting by AFP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/kosovo-serbs- shooting-south/32213267.html

Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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