NATO Is Sending 700 More Troops to Kosovo

30 peacekeepers were injured in unrest Monday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 30, 2023 6:02 PM CDT
30 Peacekeepers Hurt in Kosovo Unrest
KFOR soldiers set up a security fence in front of a municipal building in the town of Zvecan, northern Kosovo, Tuesday, May 30, 2023.   (AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic)

NATO will send 700 more troops to northern Kosovo to help quell violent protests after clashes with ethnic Serbs there left 30 international soldiers wounded, the alliance announced Tuesday. The latest violence in the region has stirred fear of a renewal of the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo that claimed more than 10,000 lives, left more than 1 million people homeless and resulted in a NATO peacekeeping mission that has lasted nearly a quarter of a century, the AP reports. The clashes grew out of a confrontation that unfolded last week after ethnic Albanian officials elected in votes overwhelmingly boycotted by Serbs entered municipal buildings to take office.

When Serbs tried to block them, Kosovo police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. More violence followed on Monday when Serbs attempted to enter the municipal offices in Zvecan, 28 miles north of the capital, Pristina, and clashed with police and NATO peacekeepers. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said an additional reserve battalion would be put on high readiness in case additional troops are needed. "These are prudent steps," said Stoltenberg. The United States and most European Union nations have recognized Kosovo's independence from Serbia while Russia and China have sided with Belgrade, which did not recognize the former Serbian province's declaration of independence in 2008.

The NATO-led peacekeeping mission in the region is known as KFOR and currently consists of almost 3,800 troops. A statement issued Tuesday by KFOR said 30 soldiers—11 Italians and 19 Hungarians—were hurt in Monday's unrest, with injuries including fractures and burns from improvised explosive incendiary devices. Three Hungarian soldiers were “wounded by the use of firearms," but their injuries were not life-threatening, the statement added. Serb officials said 52 people were injured, three of them seriously. Four protesters were detained, according to Kosovo police.

(More Kosovo stories.)

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