The law states that Kosovo authorities cannot intervene in Orthodox churches and monasteries without the consent of the Church
The situation remains chaotic in northern Kosovo, where armed men have stormed a monastery in Bansko, while they are holding hostage 50 believers from Novi Sad, who happened to be in the monastery at the time of the armed invasion.
About 30 armed men have barricaded themselves in the monastery of Agios Stefanos in Bansko and are surrounded by the police, while gunfire is heard.
Videos from the north of Kosovo and Metohija (Banjska) have appeared on the Internet, on which you can hear the action of small arms.
Kosovo PM #Kurti says the 30 Serbs who did it are surrounded and call on them to surrender. pic.twitter.com/O102cfbbCe
— Mahmood Khan (@Mahmood88239370) September 24, 2023
In the early afternoon, police said that “based on the latest information, one of the attackers has been killed,” without giving further details.
A Kosovo police officer was killed and another injured during a shooting in a village in the north of Kosovo, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said, in the first such major violence in months https://t.co/wwqynr5TdD pic.twitter.com/Y0VhhUEl5B
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 24, 2023
In his interview, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he said the gunmen “are not civilians (…) but professionals, police or military who are in and around the monastery” and called on them to surrender.
The murder & violence in the north is being perpetrated by these men—armed & organized professional forces in armored vehicles with no license plates. Let me restate: It is not ordinary Kosova Serb citizens but Serbian-state supported troops perpetrating these terrorist attacks. pic.twitter.com/2ipXu5rgFF
— Albin Kurti (@albinkurti) September 24, 2023
NATO peacekeeping force ready to intervene
The law stipulates that the Kosovo authorities cannot intervene in Orthodox churches and monasteries without the consent of the Church. Extraordinary circumstances, such as a fire or an earthquake, are excluded.
KFOR, NATO’s peacekeeping force in Kosovo, said it was “present and ready to intervene if requested”, clarifying that the Kosovo police were responsible for managing the situation.
Syfmona with an announcement from the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, a group of pilgrims from Novi Sad and an abbot are in the monastery. For their safety, they have been locked inside after the gunmen “attacked the monastery with an armored vehicle and forced their way in.”
One Kosovar policeman was killed and another was wounded
The unrest has continued since the morning, when a Kosovar policeman was killed and a second wounded while on patrol near the border with Serbia. According to Pristina, they were attacked from various points with heavy weapons and grenades. Albin Kurti spoke of a “criminal and terrorist” attack, accusing Belgrade of providing financial and logistical support “to organized crime”.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has announced that he will speak at 20.00 tonight to “expose all the lies of Albin Kurti that is creating chaos and hell” in Kosovo.
The European Union condemned, in a post on the X platform of the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, “the horrific attack against police officers in Bansko, in northern Kosovo”, adding that “those responsible must be brought to justice”.
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