Serb stabbed, incidents in K. Mitrovica

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- After two Albanians stabbed a 16-year-old Serb with a knife in Kosovska Mitrovica this afternoon and incidents that ensued, the situation is now calm.

The bridge (FoNet, archive)
The bridge (FoNet, archive)

Automatic gunfire was heard as an Albanian-owned store was set on fire near the bridge on the Ibar River which divides Kosovska Mitrovica into its northern, predominantly Serb, and southern, Albanian part.

The victim, Nikola Božović, was taken to hospital with a 10-centimeter stab wound apparently in the lumbar area of his back. Doctor Trajče Bogeski said that the boy was taken to an operating room. Bogeski declined to give any comment on how serious the boy's condition is.

Upon hearing about the attack, the Serbs took it to the streets to demonstrate, setting Albanian businesses on fire and demolishing several cars with Kosovo license plates.

Automatic gunfire was also reported to be heard in various parts of the town.

Several hundred Serbs were protesting near the separation bridge.

KPS arrested the two Albanians as they fled the crime scene, one of them with a knife.

The bridge on the Ibar has been closed, with KFOR troops posted there. A helicopter was flying over the town, Beta news agency reports.

The situation in Kosovska Mitrovica this evening was at one point extremely tense, but it stablized after KFOR increased its numbers in the streets. Kosovo police, KPS, and firefighters were in Bošnjačka Mahala where the store was burning.

This neighborhood in the northern part of the town has Albanian and Bosniak residents. There are no Serbs in the southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.

In the meantime, deputy Mayor Ljubiša Petorivić was attacked by a group of ethnic Albanians at around 17:15 CET. Petrović was trying to talk to the Albanians in order to calm the tensions, but they physically assaulted him and his car.

State Secretary with the Ministry for Kosovo Oliver Ivanović said this afternoon that he believes the KPS will not be able to control the situation.

"I have spoken to KFOR commanders, and I received assurances that KFOR and EULEX units will establish order. I appeal on all citizens to leave that place because I think that it is best for KFOR to take over the control of the that part of the town," Ivanović told B92.

Meanwhile, one of the Kosovo Serb leaders and Director of the northern Kosovska Mitrovica Healthcare Center Milan Ivanović confirmed that the victim was treated at the hospital and said that he expects his condition to stabilize.

"The situation is tense, Albanians have fled to Bošnjačka Mahala. There are tensions and disturbance. The commotion has spread to the Tri Solitera neighborhood when 50 to 100 Albanians tried to cross the pedestrian bridge from the southern part in order to attack Serbs. There were clashes between the two groups. UNMIK, KPS, KFOR all got involved, and there were shots fired from automatic rifles and pistols from Tri Solitera [an apartment block],"Ivanović told B92.