NATO will deploy an additional contingent in Kosovo after 30 members of the international peacekeeping force KFOR were injured in the recent violence, the North Atlantic Alliance announced on Twitter on Tuesday, DPA reports.
According to military sources in Brussels, a contingent of approximately 700 soldiers will be sent to Kosovo.
Currently, 3,800 soldiers are stationed in Kosovo as part of KFOR, a force under NATO command.
The deployment “is a preventive measure to ensure that KFOR has the necessary capabilities to maintain security”, said the commander of the NATO Allied Joint Force in Naples, Admiral Stuart B. Munsch, quoted by Agerpres. “The violence must stop, all parties must show restraint from actions that undermine peace in all communities in Kosovo,” added Munsch.
Eleven Italian and 19 Hungarian KFOR soldiers were injured Monday during clashes with Serbian demonstrators demanding the departure of ethnic Albanian mayors. Belgrade evoked dozens of injured among the demonstrators.
“Such attacks are totally unacceptable”, said NATO Deputy Secretary General, Mircea Geoană, who emphasized that
“the violence must stop immediately”.
Many members of the Serbian community, the majority in four towns in northern Kosovo, do not recognize Pristina’s authority and are loyal to Belgrade. Serbs boycotted the April municipal elections in these localities, which led to the election of ethnic Albanian mayors with a participation rate of less than 3.5%.
On Monday, in Zvecan, the Serbian demonstrators were initially repelled by the Kosovar forces, who used tear gas. Afterwards, KFOR tried to separate the two sides, before dispersing the crowd. The demonstrators responded by throwing stones and incendiary bottles in the direction of the KFOR soldiers.