NATO’s force in Kosovo said it will shoot to kill anyone who crosses a barricaded area near the disputed checkpoint on Serbia’s border with Kosovo, as the standoff there threatens to turn into a conflict.
The crossing, formerly controlled by Serbia, was seized by Kosovo police backed by the alliance two weeks ago, reports RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky.
On Thursday, Kosovo’s Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi said that roadblocks put up by local Serbs will be removed, pledging, though, that ethnic Albanian-dominated authorities will make no unilateral moves, AP reports. The removal of barriers is “inevitable” as they prevent “freedom of movement for people and goods,” the minister said, adding that any action would be coordinated with the NATO-led KFOR forces and the European Union mission.
As RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky reports from the area on Friday, the situation around the conflict zone in Kosovska Mitrovica has calmed down. However, there are certain indications of potential escalation of the conflict around the town. Mitrovica is split between the Albanians and the Serbs, and as RT’s crew witnessed last night, the latter are currently reinforcing their barricades with fresh piles of sandbags being put on the roads to block access for the KFOR forces and the Kosovo police.
NATO helicopters are also bringing in additional troops to the conflict zone, reportedly flying over the border crossings approximately every 30 minutes.
These developments come two days after clashes took place between the Serbs in northern Kosovo and the NATO-led troops, when the latter reportedly fired on Serb protesters in the Kosovska Mitrovica region, allegedly responding to an attack by the crowd.
On Wednesday, members of the United Nations Security Council gathered for emergency consultations in New York to discuss the situation in southern Serbia, but failed to reach a common stance on the conflict in the turbulent region.