Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday declared the army on high combat alert due to clashes between protesters and police in Serb-majority areas in the north of the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo.
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The president's decision involves the displacement of troops to the administrative border with Kosovo and Metohija. According to local media, the move was taken in response to violent tactics by Kosovar Police against Serb citizens in Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic.
Vucic also urged NATO to take urgent measures to stop the violence against the Serb population in the region.
Kosovar law enforcement forces are attempting to seize administrative buildings, media reports said about rising tensions in four Serb-populated municipalities in northern Kosovo and Metohija.
Local residents have clashed with Kosovar officers as they attempt to prevent Kosovo Albanian police and officials from entering administrative buildings. Activation of sirens, disruption of mobile communications and the use of stun grenades and tear gas by law enforcement officers have been reported.
Local elections were held in four municipalities: Zvecan, Zubin Potok, Leposavic and North Mitrovica in northern Kosovo and Metohija on April 23. On that occasion, the Serbian community boycotted the elections, which resulted in a minimal turnout of only 3.47%.
The authorities in Pristina have tried to appoint Albanian mayors in the region. According to the Kosovar Police, the intervention this Friday is due to the fact that the new authorities, who took office on Thursday in unofficial facilities, could access their offices.
It has been reported that despite the refusal of local Serbs, police units have managed to secure entry into administrative buildings in Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan for the newly elected ethnic Albanian mayors. Kosovo's flags have been placed on municipal seats in Leposavic and Zubin Potok.
Kosovo, with a majority Albanian population, proclaimed in 2008 its unilateral independence from Serbia, not recognized by nations such as Serbia itself, Russia, China, Spain, Greece and Iran.