Following the inauguration of Albanian mayors last week, clashes broke out between Serbs and Kosovo police and NATO soldiers. According to a NATO statement on Monday, 25 NATO soldiers were injured in the clashes.
The soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades to protect the Kosovar officers and disperse protesters, according to witnesses. The assembled Serbs responded by throwing rocks and other hard objects at them, AP News reported.
"Several soldiers of the Italian and Hungarian KFOR contingent were the subject of unprovoked attacks and sustained trauma wounds with fractures and burns due to the explosion of incendiary devices," said the NATO peacekeepers in a statement.
Serbian President Alexander Vucic said he would spend Monday night with his troops on the border with Kosovo, which he ordered last week to be placed on the highest alert.
He added in the same statement that 52 Serbs were wounded in the clashes, including 3 seriously, and 4 were detained.
"The consequences (of the clashes) are big and grave and the sole culprit is (Kosovo Prime Minister) Albin Kurti," said Vucic. He referred to the Albanian forces in the north Kosovo as "occupiers."
"I repeat for the last time and I beg the international community to make sure Albin Kurti sees reason," Vucic said. "If they don't, I am afraid it will be too late for all of us."
Last week, Serbia decided to send more troops to the border with Kosovo, which declared independence from Belgrade in 2008. After the declaration of a state of high alert, tensions in the region escalated.
Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo's sovereignty and the two countries have been enemies for years.
The United States and the European Union, concerned about the current tensions and a possible war in Europe, have been trying to normalize relations.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described the situation in Kosovo as worrying and accused the United States and NATO of asserting dominance in the region.
Source: AP News