Dozens of citizens injured in clashes with KFOR

NATO troops in Kosovo, KFOR, this morning moved to dismantle a barricade at Jagnjenica, near the town of Zubin Potok, provoking clashes with local residents.

Izvor: Beta

Monday, 28.11.2011.

10:26

Default images

NATO troops in Kosovo, KFOR, this morning moved to dismantle a barricade at Jagnjenica, near the town of Zubin Potok, provoking clashes with local residents. Reports from northern Kosovo say that between 30 and 50 citizens, along with two KFOR members, were injured. Dozens of citizens injured in clashes with KFOR Witnesses said that gunshots were heard as the incident unfolded at the roadblock. The most seriously wounded citizens were transported to Kosovska Mitrovica, while others were treated in nearby Zvecan. Kosovska Mitrovica Mayor Krstimir Pantic sustained minor injuries from the tear gas thrown by KFOR, said reports. more photos KFOR used water canons, stun grenades and tear gas against the citizens gathered at the barricade, where the situation is currently calm but tense. However, the locals and the soldiers - wearing full combat gear - are standing facing each other, while KFOR helicopters are flying over the scene. KFOR was threatening to "use more force", Beta news agency's reporters said, while the Serbs protesting at the scene were in the meantime joined by all mayors of Serb municipalities in the north, as well as Kosovska Mitrovica District chief Radenko Nedeljkovic and Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary Oliver Ivanovic. Mobile telephony reception is being jammed at Jagnjenica, making communication with the outside world difficult. Reports earlier on Monday said that KFOR used an armored vehicle to remove the barricade set up in the village of Jagnjenica. After this action by the members of the NATO forces in Kosovo, sirens were heard alerting the population of this Serb region in the north of the province. Reports said that a large number of local citizens then headed toward the barricade, which is located on the Kosovska Mitrovica-Zubin Potok. A Tanjug news agency report explained that German and Austrian soldiers used an armored vehicle to push aside a bus and trucks that blocked the road. Shots fired from automatic weapons were heard during the incident, but it is unclear where they came from, said reports, quoting eyewitnesses. According to reports, a KFOR representative also informed Zubin Potok Mayor Slavisa Ristic that one of their members was wounded. However, KFOR spokesman Uwe Nowitzki first denied that any shots were fired at Jagnjenica on Monday morning, and told Beta news agency that no soldiers were injured. He also claimed that "small amounts of tear gas were used" against the Serbs, while they pelted the troops "with pyrotechnics". But in a statement for B92 later in the day, Nowitzki said that two soldiers were injured "when demonstrators used small-caliber firearms against them", and that KFOR was reacting to these attacks, and acting "within its madate to secure the freedom of movement in the entire territory of Kosovo". Another KFOR spokesman, Frank Martin, told foreign media that "two soldiers were wounded in today's clashes". A third spokesman for the NATO mission, Dan Harvey, stated that "one soldier was shot in the shoulder and another in the leg". "The clashes are still ongoing, and the protesters are using small firearms and throwing stones at KFOR, which is responding with water cannons and rubber bullets," Harvy told the media early in the afternoon, and added that KFOR troops were instructed to use live ammunition "if they come under attack". Asked by Tanjug news agency to react to this statement, KFOR spokesman Nowitzki said that such ammunition "would not be used under any circumstances". In the meantime, the Serbs put up a new barricade some 500 meters away from the road block cleared by KFOR this morning. Serbs in the northern part of Kosovo, who form a majority there and do not recognize the authority of the Kosovo Albanian government in Pristina, have been manning the road blocks for several months now. The barricades were put up in protest over attempts to install Pristina's customs and police at two administrative line checkpoints located between central Serbia and Kosovo. The scene of the incident (Tanjug) The incident at Jagnjenica When KFOR removed the original barricade at Jagnjenica and cut off the area, Zubin Potok Mayor Slavisa Ristic asked them to leave the road and promised that the citizens would be peaceful. Ristic appraised that today's move on the part of KFOR was unnecessary, since the Serbs at the barricades already allow them free passage. But the NATO mission previously rejected to use this right "unless EULEX too was allowed to move freely", and today their representatives told the mayor that "it was not true they had freedom of movement", and that they "would not move from the road", asking instead the Serbs gathered there to leave. However, more citizens continued to arrive at the scene. At around 11:00 CET, the soldiers used loudspeakers to announce that "one of their commanders was shot in the arm", and blamed the citizens for this. This caused indignation among those gathered, said Beta news agency. The Serbs began shouting that the KFOR claim was a lie, and that they never used firearms. At this point, KFOR once again threw tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters, while shots were heard. KFOR soldiers also again used loud speakers to announce: "Disperse, or we will continue to shoot." The situation then calmed down, but both the local Serbs, and the KFOR soldiers, are still standing on the road, facing each other, said the Beta news agency report.

Dozens of citizens injured in clashes with KFOR

Witnesses said that gunshots were heard as the incident unfolded at the roadblock.

The most seriously wounded citizens were transported to Kosovska Mitrovica, while others were treated in nearby Zvečan.

Kosovska Mitrovica Mayor Krstimir Pantić sustained minor injuries from the tear gas thrown by KFOR, said reports.

more photos

KFOR used water canons, stun grenades and tear gas against the citizens gathered at the barricade, where the situation is currently calm but tense.

However, the locals and the soldiers - wearing full combat gear - are standing facing each other, while KFOR helicopters are flying over the scene.

KFOR was threatening to "use more force", Beta news agency's reporters said, while the Serbs protesting at the scene were in the meantime joined by all mayors of Serb municipalities in the north, as well as Kosovska Mitrovica District chief Radenko Nedeljković and Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary Oliver Ivanović.

Mobile telephony reception is being jammed at Jagnjenica, making communication with the outside world difficult.

Reports earlier on Monday said that KFOR used an armored vehicle to remove the barricade set up in the village of Jagnjenica.

After this action by the members of the NATO forces in Kosovo, sirens were heard alerting the population of this Serb region in the north of the province.

Reports said that a large number of local citizens then headed toward the barricade, which is located on the Kosovska Mitrovica-Zubin Potok.

A Tanjug news agency report explained that German and Austrian soldiers used an armored vehicle to push aside a bus and trucks that blocked the road.

Shots fired from automatic weapons were heard during the incident, but it is unclear where they came from, said reports, quoting eyewitnesses.

According to reports, a KFOR representative also informed Zubin Potok Mayor Slaviša Ristić that one of their members was wounded.

However, KFOR spokesman Uwe Nowitzki first denied that any shots were fired at Jagnjenica on Monday morning, and told Beta news agency that no soldiers were injured.

He also claimed that "small amounts of tear gas were used" against the Serbs, while they pelted the troops "with pyrotechnics".

But in a statement for B92 later in the day, Nowitzki said that two soldiers were injured "when demonstrators used small-caliber firearms against them", and that KFOR was reacting to these attacks, and acting "within its madate to secure the freedom of movement in the entire territory of Kosovo".

Another KFOR spokesman, Frank Martin, told foreign media that "two soldiers were wounded in today's clashes".

A third spokesman for the NATO mission, Dan Harvey, stated that "one soldier was shot in the shoulder and another in the leg".

"The clashes are still ongoing, and the protesters are using small firearms and throwing stones at KFOR, which is responding with water cannons and rubber bullets," Harvy told the media early in the afternoon, and added that KFOR troops were instructed to use live ammunition "if they come under attack".

Asked by Tanjug news agency to react to this statement, KFOR spokesman Nowitzki said that such ammunition "would not be used under any circumstances".

In the meantime, the Serbs put up a new barricade some 500 meters away from the road block cleared by KFOR this morning.

Serbs in the northern part of Kosovo, who form a majority there and do not recognize the authority of the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština, have been manning the road blocks for several months now.

The barricades were put up in protest over attempts to install Priština's customs and police at two administrative line checkpoints located between central Serbia and Kosovo.

The incident at Jagnjenica

When KFOR removed the original barricade at Jagnjenica and cut off the area, Zubin Potok Mayor Slaviša Ristić asked them to leave the road and promised that the citizens would be peaceful.

Ristić appraised that today's move on the part of KFOR was unnecessary, since the Serbs at the barricades already allow them free passage.

But the NATO mission previously rejected to use this right "unless EULEX too was allowed to move freely", and today their representatives told the mayor that "it was not true they had freedom of movement", and that they "would not move from the road", asking instead the Serbs gathered there to leave.

However, more citizens continued to arrive at the scene.

At around 11:00 CET, the soldiers used loudspeakers to announce that "one of their commanders was shot in the arm", and blamed the citizens for this.

This caused indignation among those gathered, said Beta news agency. The Serbs began shouting that the KFOR claim was a lie, and that they never used firearms.

At this point, KFOR once again threw tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters, while shots were heard.

KFOR soldiers also again used loud speakers to announce: "Disperse, or we will continue to shoot."

The situation then calmed down, but both the local Serbs, and the KFOR soldiers, are still standing on the road, facing each other, said the Beta news agency report.

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