AA / Tunisia / Majdi Ismail
Kosovo police on Friday dispersed protesting Serb civilians with tear gas in defiance of the oath of office of ethnic Albanian mayors in the Serb-majority region of northern Kosovo, local and foreign media reported.
The mayors were appointed at the end of local elections organized by Pristina on April 23 in four municipalities populated mainly by Serbs, who boycotted the elections following calls from Belgrade, reports the Lebanese newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour.
Only 1,500 out of about 45,000 registered voters cast their ballots, the same source said.
Clashes between Serbian civilians and Kosovo police first took place in front of Zvečani City Hall. The police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters. The sound of gunshots can also be heard in videos circulating on social networks.
A dozen people were lightly injured and received the necessary treatment at a hospital in the northern part of the divided city of Mitrovica, the deputy director of the facility, Danica Radomirovic, was quoted as saying by Kosovo media.
According to the same source, the police car caught fire.
According to Serbian National Television (RTS), Kosovo police also used tear gas to disperse protesters in the municipalities of Leposavic and Zubin Potok.
RTS reports that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has ordered the army to be on “high alert” and to move towards the Kosovo border.
Tensions are high in northern Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008 and has never been recognized by Belgrade.
The municipal elections came more than a month after the European Union announced a deal to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina in Ohrid, North Macedonia, at a meeting the two sides have yet to sign.