Serbs attacked with firebombs; "Cyrillic t-shirts" banned

GAZIMESTAN, PRIŠTINA -- 16 Serb children were injured when Molotov cocktails were thrown at them as they were returning from the Vidovdan ceremonies in Gazimestan on Thursday.

A man carries the Serbian flag surrounded by KPS members at Gazimestan on Thursday (Tanjug)
A man carries the Serbian flag surrounded by KPS members at Gazimestan on Thursday (Tanjug)

The attack happened in Priština. B92 has learned that two Serbs received serious injuries and were treated in the nearby enclave on Gračanica.

Gračanica Health Care Center Radmila Trajković told Tanjug that they treated 16 Serb children - between eight and 16 years of age - and that they were injured when their buses returning from Gazimestan came under attack.

The two boys who were hospitalized were "hit with concrete blocks on the head", she said.

The attackers were described as "a group of (ethnic) Albanian youths". Their target was a convoy of school buses leaving Gazimestan.

A total of four Molotov cocktails were thrown at the buses, along with blocks of concrete, Trajković explained.

The Kosovo police, KPS, are yet to make any statement regarding the attack.

Thousands of Serbs gathered at Gazimestan to mark one of the most significant and symbolic dates in the nation's history - the 1389 Battle of Kosovo.

The KPS members searched them and confiscated their clothes, flags, and other insignia they were carrying.

RTRS reporter Siniša Mihailović said that he heard the KPS members say this was done because in Kosovo and Metohija, "it was prohibited to wear t-shirts with inscriptions in the Cyrillic script", as well as "others' coats-of-arms, or any word that reminiscent of Serbia".

The reporter explained that the contentious t-shirts were worn by himself, Glas Srpske journalist Goran Manauga, and veterans of Banja Luka's Vrbas football club, who two days ago delivered humanitarian aid to Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and took part in a football tournament.

Mihailović described the shirts as having the words "Banja Luka - Republika Srpska (Serb Republic)" written on the back, and the RS coat-of-arms and the message "Brothers, we are with you" on the front.

On Thursday afternoon, the KPS officially announced that the t-shirts were confiscated because they "incited ethnic hatred" - which was "contrary to valid legal regulation".

Among those who gathered at Gazimestan were members of some right-wing organizations who at the end of the services chanted slogans supportive of war crimes suspects Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić, which prompted Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej to intervene and "calm them down", media reports said.

More separate incidents and injuries were reported today from the administrative line between Kosovo and central Serbia.

Earlier in the day, reports said that "hundreds of Serbs were arriving at Gazimestan where a central celebration of Vidovdan (St. Vitus Day) is beinge held".

Kosovo police, KPS, were searching the Serbs and confiscating all items with national and religious markings aside from Serbian flags.

According to Beta news agency, some members of the KPS were "rough and they are even confiscating šajkačas, Serbian traditional hats, from the citizens".

The Kosovo police also seized t-shirts with political slogans, leaving numerous participants shirtless. Some citizens have protested against the Kosovo police’s actions but there are no incidents.

According to reprorts, "special units" searched all Serbs who came from Gračanica to Gazimestan and seized items with national and religious markings, including t-shirts with disputable writings.

The police threw the seized items into a ditch near the Priština-Kosovska Mitrovica Road.

Some Kosovo policemen even seized the Serbian flags and a flag of the Democratic Party (DS).

There are large numbers of police officers along the Priština-Kosovska Mitrovica Road.

The central manifestation started at 13:00 CET. Liturgy for the fallen soldiers of the medieval Serbian Kingdom who died in the Battle for Kosovo in 1389 was held, as is the case each year.

Serbian Patriarch Irinej previously also served holy liturgy in the Gračanica monastery.

St. Vitus Day is celebrated by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and the Serbian people in memory of the soldiers of the medieval Serbian Kingdom who fell in defense of their land and Christianity, faced with the Ottoman Turk invasion in the Battle for Kosovo in 1389.