Borrell warns against attacks on EU mission in Kosovo

Barricades must be removed immediately by groups of Kosovo Serbs and calm must be restored, says EU's foreign policy chief.

Borrell warns against attacks on EU mission in Kosovo

The EU will not tolerate attacks against the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), the bloc's foreign policy chief said on Sunday, amid high tensions in the country's north.

An EULEX car patrol was attacked with a stun grenade overnight in the town of Rudare, an event which did not cause casualties or material damage, the mission said.

"This attack, as well as the attacks on Kosovo Police officers, are unacceptable," it said. "We strongly condemn the violent acts perpetrated by armed persons in northern Kosovo, including against the international community."

Josep Borrell tweeted that the "EU will not tolerate attacks on EULEX Kosovo or use of violent, criminal acts in the north."

"Barricades must be removed immediately by groups of Kosovo Serbs. Calm must be restored," he said, adding that the international personnel will continue to coordinate with Kosovo authorities.

He urged all actors to avoid escalation.

NATO also condemned the attack on the European mission in Kosovo.

"Any such attacks are unacceptable and those responsible must be held to account," spokesperson of the alliance Oana Lungescu said on Twitter.

Expressing determination to support the stability of Kosovo, she called on those responsible to refrain from more provocative actions and urged authorities in Kosovo to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Kosovo officials said late Saturday that shots were fired from different locations at police units that were on official duty near northern towns.

"Police units in self-defense were forced to respond with firearms to criminal persons/groups, who retreated and moved away in an unknown direction ... gunshots were heard in several different locations," it said.

There was no official information about injuries or damages.

Earlier, Kosovo police closed two border crossings in the north with Serbia.

Kosovo, predominantly inhabited by Albanians, broke from Serbia in 1999 and declared independence in 2008. But Serbia has not recognized the independence and sees its former province as a part of its territory.

Tensions between the two flared last month when Kosovo attempted to require ethnic Serbs to change their old car plates that date before 1999. The decision led ethnic Serbs in Kosovo to withdraw from all central and local institutions.

A snap election was announced in four northern municipalities on Dec. 18 after ethnic Serb representatives resigned from their posts.

But Kosovo has postponed the elections over security concerns, and the vote will now be held next April.

Earlier this week, some election centers were damaged and shooting was heard in those areas, raising fears of escalation.

Meanwhile, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that Belgrade will formally ask the NATO-led peacekeeper mission in Kosovo to deploy Serbian troops there.