The prime minister of Kosovo called for the activation of a multinational peacekeeping force on Sunday as a weekend of violence threatens to reignite tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, which have long been at odds, according to media reports.
Serbian protesters in their country’s former province of Kosovo blocked roads, while gunmen attacked police in the latest instance of renewed violence that threatens to collapse a tense coexistence since the two countries reached a fragile peace in 2008, CNN reported. Earlier on Sunday, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic requested permission from Kosovo Force (KFOR), the NATO police contingent, to allow Serbia’s military to deploy in Kosovo, but acknowledged it was unlikely such permission would be granted.
Also on Sunday, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti urged KFOR to intervene against “criminal gangs” who may be responsible for shooting at police and throwing stun grenades, according to CNN. He asked KFOR to guarantee “freedom of movement” as minority Serbs blocked roads.
KFOR currently has 3,770 troops on the ground working to deter further hostilities and ensure public order, according to NATO.
Violence and protests in recent weeks have disrupted a fragile peace established in Kosovo after the Albanian-majority region declared independence from Serbia in 2008, the result of a brutal conflict a decade prior that saw NATO intervention led by former President Bill Clinton to defend Kosovo’s Albanian population. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Serbian minority groups in northern Kosovo demonstrated on Saturday against Kuri’s policies they see as anti-Serb, including the arrest of a Serbian policeman accused of organizing attacks on police and election officials, according to CNN. Authorities in Kosovo accused the policeman of “committing terrorist acts and attacking the constitutional order.”
Kosovo police said they sustained small arms fire, and a stun grenade was launched at a car belonging to the European Union’s mission in Kosovo, EULEX, CNN reported.
The U.S., EU and NATO called for a de-escalation in tensions, CNN reported.
“We firmly condemn as unacceptable all attacks on Kosovan and International security agencies,” the U.S. Embassies in Pristina and Belgrade said in a joint statement.
Serb mayors in northern Kosovo towns and several hundred police officers stepped down from their positions en masse in November after Kosovo’s government revealed plans to decommission vehicle license plates issued under Belgrade and replace them with Kosovo plates, CNN reported.
“Whenever one would think we have something solved, another problem emerges,” Vucic said, alleging Kosovo’s government has deliberately inflamed tensions with moves such as deploying a police contingent near Kosovo’s border with Serbia, which requires consent of Serb mayors.
Kosovo and Serbia are attempting peace talks in Brussels and the EU has presented a plan, according to CNN.
The National Security Council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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