A Kosovo police patrol was attacked as it approached a blocked road near the border with Serbia – OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI/REUTERS

On Sunday, an alarming incident unfolded in Kosovo as gunmen riding in armored vehicles launched an audacious assault on a village, engaging in a fierce confrontation with local law enforcement and ultimately taking refuge within a Serbian Orthodox monastery. This unsettling resurgence of violence has rekindled tensions in the volatile northern region.

During the siege that endured for several hours, monks and pilgrims found themselves confined within the sanctuary of the monastery, as confirmed by the church.

Kosovo’s population is predominantly composed of ethnic Albanians, accounting for over 90% of its inhabitants. However, in the northern territories, Serbs constitute the majority. This divide has previously sparked clashes, such as those witnessed in May, resulting in numerous injuries to protesters and peacekeepers belonging to the NATO alliance.

The ongoing refusal by the Serb population to acknowledge Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, coupled with their enduring attachment to Belgrade as their capital, underscores the deep-rooted historical and political complexities in the region. This sentiment traces back over two decades to the Kosovo Albanian uprising against oppressive Serbian rule.

The exact perpetrators of Sunday’s violence remained uncertain, but Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, and Interior Minister, Xhelal Svecla, pointed fingers at “Serbia-sponsored criminals” as the culprits.

The day’s events began with an attack on a Kosovo police patrol as it approached a roadblock near the Serbian border. Prime Minister Kurti condemned the assault, describing the assailants as highly skilled individuals concealed behind masks and armed with formidable weaponry. He further asserted that the organized criminal elements responsible for the attack received political, financial, and logistical backing from officials in Belgrade.

In a tragic outcome, one police officer lost their life during the attack, as reported by a statement from the police issued earlier on Sunday. The assailants engaged in a relentless assault, utilizing bullets, grenades, and even rocket launchers, leaving a profound sense of alarm in the region.

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