The drums of war may beat.. Kosovo closes the largest border crossing with Serbia

Today, Wednesday, the authorities in Kosovo closed the largest border crossing with Serbia, amid tensions between the two countries.

This came after Serb protesters in the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, erected new roadblocks on Tuesday, hours after Serbia announced that it had put its army on high alert, which would fuel the escalating tensions between Belgrade and Pristina for weeks.

High alert

For his part, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic directed, on Monday evening, to put the army and police forces on alert, in response to the recent events in the region, and in anticipation of Kosovo attacking the Serbs and removing the barriers by force.

Since the tenth of this month, the Serbs in northern Kosovo began setting up several roadblocks, around and within the city of Mitrovica, and exchanged fire with the Kosovo police.

Put up barriers

On Tuesday, Serb militants erected a roadblock north of the divided city of Mitrovica in Kosovo, using trucks loaded with stones and sand to block access to a Bosnian neighborhood.

About 50,000 Serbs live in the northern parts of Kosovo, with an Albanian majority, and refuse to recognize the state or government of Kosovo. They view Belgrade as their capital and are supported by Serbia, from which Kosovo declared its independence in 2008.

“criminal gangs”

While the Kosovo government said in a statement on Monday: “Kosovo cannot engage in dialogue with criminal gangs, and traffic must return to normal. We will not allow the presence of roadblocks on any road.”

In its response to the request to remove the barriers, the government said that the police forces are able and willing to intervene, but that it is waiting for the NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo who play a neutral role.

“We urge all parties to help us establish security and ensure freedom of movement in Kosovo, and prevent misleading narratives from affecting the dialogue process,” the Kosovo Peacekeeping Forces said in a statement.

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