The Kosovo Prosecutor's Office confirms: Those arrested in Banjska are citizens of Serbia

2023-09-25 21:33:57Kosova&Bota SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
The Kosovo Prosecutor's Office confirms: Those arrested in Banjska are citizens of Serbia

Those arrested in Banjska, Zveçan, who are suspected of being in contact with the attackers of the Kosovo Police, have Serbian citizenship, confirms the prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor's Office of Kosovo, Naim Abazi.

"We don't have other citizens", he says for Radio Free Europe.

He adds that some of the arrested, in addition to Serbian citizenship, also have Kosovo documents, but he does not specify how many of them have such. According to him, all of them are still in the interview process. On September 24, a member of the Kosovo Police was killed when armed persons, around 30, attacked police units in the village of Banjskë - an area inhabited by a majority of Serbs in the north of the country.

In the ensuing clashes between the armed group and law enforcement, four attackers were killed and six people suspected of being linked to them were arrested, authorities confirmed. They did not say whether the other gunmen fled.

The Special Prosecutor's Office of Kosovo said that the arrestees have already been detained for 48 hours and that they are suspected of a number of crimes, including "attack against the constitutional order of the Republic of Kosovo", "preparation of terrorist acts" and "unlicensed possession of weapons ". Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the director general of the Kosovo Police, Gazmend Hoxha, said that investigations into the arrested are continuing.

"As for the identification of the persons who were present, a great deal is being done, but, for the moment, we cannot share the information in this regard with the public", said Hoxha.

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and his Minister of the Interior, Xhelal Sveçla, accused official Belgrade of orchestrating the attack in Banjska.

What do the authorities in Belgrade say?

In Belgrade, there is no official information about the attackers of the Kosovo Police, except for what the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said.

"The Serbs from Kosovo rebelled, as they no longer wanted to suffer Kurti's terror," said Vucic.

But, there is no official answer to the questions about who the attackers are, who trained them and with whom they were connected.

Serbia's Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security and Information Agency did not respond to Radio Free Europe's questions about whether anyone from the group of attackers crossed into Serbia and whether he was arrested.

Meho Mahmutovi?, director of the hospital in Novi Pazar, the nearest city across the Kosovo border, did not respond to REL's request to comment on the statements of Kosovo's Interior Minister, Xhelal Sveçla, that six police attackers in Banjska are being treated in this hospital.

REL learned unofficially from a source inside the hospital that some of the attackers are being treated there. However, the source could not say the exact number nor provide information about their health status. The REL team went to the hospital in Novi Pazar on Monday afternoon, but did not notice an increased police presence.

The Government of Serbia and the Office for Kosovo in Serbia did not respond to REL's request for comment on Minister Sve?la's claims that Millan Radoicic – vice president of the largest Serb party in Kosovo, Lista Serbe – is connected to the attack. The Serbian government did not even respond to Pristina's claims that the group that attacked the Kosovo Police was allegedly actively supported by this government. Neither the Presidency of Serbia gave any comment.

Dushan Janjiq, from the non-governmental Forum for Ethnic Relations in Belgrade, tells Radio Free Europe that it is common for investigations not to reveal names until everything is checked.

"If the authorities in Belgrade only know what Vucic has read, then they should immediately replace Vulin," says Janjic.

Aleksandar Vulin is the head of the Security and Information Agency of Serbia (BIA). He is on the United States sanctions list, under suspicion of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking, as well as ties to Russia.

Janjiq says that, currently, there is no information on the whereabouts of "the remaining twenty or thirty people from the group that clashed with the Kosovo Police".

Kosovo authorities said that the group of about 30 attackers was armed with heavy weapons, including, according to them: grenades, military weapons and several armored vehicles. A large amount of this weaponry was confiscated, said the Kosovo Police.

Janjiq says that the motive for the attack on the Kosovo Police is political and mentions Vucic's statement that it is about "rebellion of the Serbian people".

"From now on we can talk about parapolice or paramilitary within the Serbian community", says Janjiq.

In an extraordinary address on September 24, Vucic rejected accusations that the Serbian police or army are involved in the attack in Banjska. Security experts in Kosovo told Radio Free Europe that the group that attacked the Kosovar policemen is not a spontaneous structure, but organized and well prepared.

"Now, the question arises: Was the Serbian state directly involved in this structure or were radical elements mixed in?" This is difficult to confirm. But, since there are people arrested, then the information about who pushed them to organize will be found", said Mentor Vrajolli from the Kosovar Center for Security Studies.

Even Charles Kupchan, former director of European affairs at the US National Security Council, told REL that the attack in the north appeared to be a "well organized" action.

The international community condemned the attack in Banjska in the strongest terms./ REL