Several explosions and gunshots were heard on December 6 in two municipalities in northern Kosovo, populated mainly with ethnic Serbs, but no injuries were reported.
Kosovo and Serbia blamed each other for the incidents. The incidents coincide with the EU-Western Balkans summit in Tirana, where EU officials met representatives from the six Western Balkans countries. The issue of Serbia and Kosovo was also discussed on the sidelines of the summit.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that the attacks were carried out by criminal gangs. He claimed they were directed by the president of Serbia.
"Criminal gangs have intensified their attacks in the north of Kosovo. They know it's coming to an end. The government of Kosovo neither bargains with them nor tolerates them. The bombs they throw, the bullets they shoot and the masks they wear are their political and popular impotence," Kurti said in a Facebook post.
On the other hand, the Serbian office for Kosovo claimed that the incidents were provoked by the Kosovo police. Director of the office Petar Petkovic announced that Kosovan police officers entered the premises of the municipality of Zubin Potok in order to forcefully try to prepare the ground for holding illegal elections in Kosovo's north.
Local elections will be held in four Serbian municipalities in Kosovo on December 18 after ethnic Serb mayors, together with other Serb officials and members of the police resigned in protest against Pristina's decision to replace Serbian car number plates with Kosovan ones.
Around 50,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo do not recognise the government in Pristina and consider themselves to be part of Serbia, from which Kosovo seceded in 2008.
Serbian media reported that several hundred Serbs gathered in Zubin Potok to protest against the forceful entry of members of the municipal election commission, accompanied by the police, into the municipality building. Sirens were heard in Zubin Potok and afterwards in Mitrovica North.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was cited by RTS as saying that the incident was another provocation by Kosovo’s authorities.
"Today again, contrary to the Brussels agreement and everything that was agreed, they sent policemen armed to the teeth to the north,” Vucic said.
Kosovan police said that the statement from the Serbian office is not true and is damaging.
“Criminal groups carrying out illegal actions through which they violate the freedom and security of citizens, tend to attribute these actions to regular units of the Kosovo police, which are performing their duties with great responsibility,” the police said.
The police said that all its actions were carried out in line with the law to provide the requested assistance to the election commission.
The police added that damage to the offices of the municipal election commission in Mitrovica North was done by masked, violent people who used dangerous tools, including Yugoslav-made hand grenades.
Serbia and Kosovo are expected to reach a comprehensive agreement on normalisation of their relations, which are on the rise since last summer when Kosovo’s decided to impose new rules on ID cards and licence plates for Serbs in Kosovo.