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news 25 Apr 12

Kosovo Protesters Demand End to 'Terror' in North

Hundreds of Kosovo Albanians from Mitrovica have protested in Pristina, calling on the authorities and international bodies stop the violence in the Serb-run north.

Fatmir Aliu

Hundreds of Kosovo Albanians from the divided northern town of Mitrovica protested on Tuesday in Pristina, demanding an end to the “terrorism” in the northern, Serb-run part of their town, which has led to the death of one man and several injuries.

The demonstrators who marched in silence for an hour in the main Mother Teresa boulevard, complained about the ineffectiveness of the Kosovo authorities and international bodies in tackling security problems in the north.

“The aim is to prevent further eventual terrorist acts, which are unacceptable for our society,” Nexhmedin Spahiu, one of the organizers of the demonstration, said.

Northern Kosovo, which borders Serbia, has long been prone to violence. Its population, which is almost entirely comprised of Serbs, does not recognise Kosovo's independence or the government in Pristina.

On April 8 an explosive device killed Selver Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian, and wounded his wife and four children in the mixed northern neighbourhood of Mitrovica known as the “Three Skyscrapers.”

Authorities in Pristina condemned the bomb attack as terrorism. Kosovo Police are investigating the attack but have not gone public concerning any suspects.

“The north is held hostage by Serbian structures, which want to keep the region unstable, and ethnically cleanse it of Albanians,” Shemsi Recica, from the protest council, said on Tuesday.

Tensions in northern Kosovo have risen since Serbia announced that it plans to extend its presidential, parliamentary and local elections due on May 6 to Kosovo, which it claims is still a Serbian province.

Meanwhile, since the bomb blast, Kosovo Albanians in the northern part of Mitrovica have demanded an increased security presence in their neighbourhoods.

In response, NATO’s peacekeeping mission to Kosovo has relocated troops to mixed areas where both Serbs and Albanians live.

The commander of NATO’s Kosovo force, KFOR, Lieutenant General Erhard Drews, on Tuesday said an additional 700 peacekeeping troops would be deployed in Kosovo by Friday and will mainly be allocated to the north.

NATO's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, on Monday suggested that the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, was not well enough equipped to perform the tasks it was entrusted with, especially in the north.

Speaking at the European Parliament, Rasmussen said that KFOR was facing tasks in Kosovo that were not envisaged when the mission was granted its mandate.

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