KFOR prevent conflict between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovska Mitrovica

The special EULEX police and strong KFOR forces prevented a more serious conflict that might have occurred yesterday noon at the bridge over the Ibar River separating the northern and southern part of the city. The conflict occurred while elections called by Serbia were taking place in the northern part of the city.

(KosovoCompromise Staff) Monday, May 31, 2010

Two persons suffered light injuries, said reports from the ethnically divided town.

The conflicts began yesterday at about 12:30 CET on the main bridge across the Ibar River, where EULEX police were stationed.

Before the incidents occurred, there were some 2,000 ethnic Albanians protesting the Serb elections in the north on the southern side of the bridge, calling for a "defense of Kosovo's sovereignty".

The Albanians moved towards the bridge later, where local Serbs were gathering.

Stones and rocks started flying from each side shortly after.

Protests by former so-called Kosovo Liberatio Army, KLA, members and the Movement for Unity were being held in the southern part of Mitrovica against the elections, which were organized by the government in Belgrade.

There were 13 lists participating in Mitrovica and four in Novo Brdo.

In central Serbia, displaced persons in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kraljevo, Kragujevac and Nis were able to vote as well.

The Serbian government dissolved the local governments in Kosovska Mitrovica and Novo Brdo on December 24, 2009, and established a temporary administration in the municipalities.

Serbian State secretary for Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic said that ‘this attack is a scenario by Albanians aimed to draw away attention from an action announced by the EULEX that it shall arrest criminals from Hashim Thaci's cabinet and the war criminals'.

‘Serbia is determined to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty by peaceful means and elections in Mitrovica and Novo Brdo are confirmation of such policy', Ivanovic said.

President of the Serbian State Election Commission Veljko Odalovic said that the protests aimed to put pressure on the voters and international community in order to stop the voting.

Southern Kosovska Mitrovica Municipal President Avdi Kastrati said that the elections in the northern part of the city were "illegal". He said that the residents of the northern part of the city need to "turn towards the future and prepare for the elections that would be organized by the Kosovo leadership in September".

The NATO peacekeeping mission KFOR has stated that it would offer protection for all participants in peaceful protests, adding that it would take all necessary measures against any violent acts.

The Serb Progressive Party (SNS) has won the most votes in the local elections in Kosovska Mitrovica.

According to the preliminary results in Kosovska Mitrovica, Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and euling Democratic party (DS) trail SNS.

The Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) has won a majority in the municipality of Novo Brdo, according to initial results.

Serbian State Election Commission (RIK) will today give the first preliminary results for both municipalities.