Albanian premier lashes out at Serbia for declaring day of mourning

Serbia declaring a day of mourning after a clash in Kosovo with gunmen left one police officer dead sends the wrong message to the region, the prime minister of neighboring Albania said Tuesday.

Serbia on Tuesday decided to declare Wednesday a national day of mourning after the clash in northern Kosovo – an area near Serbia’s border, with a large ethnic Serb population – between police and gunmen left one police officer dead and another wounded.

“This is the worst signal that Serbia could give to the region and the Euro-Atlantic community. Serbia should have opened a serious investigation into the members of that criminal group (that clashed with police), their connections with arms traffickers and other individuals or entities, in Serbia or elsewhere,” Edi Rama said on X.

On Sunday, a clash broke out in the village of Banjska in northern Kosovo near the Serbian border when a group of armed Serbs blocked a bridge. A shootout erupted when the group opened fire on police, killing one police officer and wounding another.

A large number of security forces were dispatched to the region, and the Brnjak border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia was closed.

The area has been the scene of unrest since this April, when local ethnic Serbs boycotted elections in northern Kosovo, followed by protests against the election of ethnic Albanian mayors.

Albanians are by far the largest ethnic group in Kosovo, followed by Serbs, with about half living in the country’s north.

Amid the unrest over the elections, NATO peacekeepers were deployed, including a group of extra Turkish reinforcements.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and gained recognition from many countries, including Trkiye. But Serbia has never recognized Kosovo, and claims that its territory is still part of Serbia.

Source: Anadolu Agency