Kosovo police said today that one of their patrols near the Serbian border had come under fire, Reuters reported, in an area of the country plagued by ethnic strife and smuggling activities.
Tensions between western Balkan neighbors Kosovo and Serbia have flared recently and came to a head last week when Kosovo said it would force Serbs living in the north of the country who use Serbian car number plates to apply for license plates issued by the institutions of Pristina. This obligation has now been postponed.
Ethnic Serbs make up about 5% of Kosovo’s population, which is 90% of Albanian descent.
“There were at least 10 shots fired near a police boat, but no one was injured,” police said in a statement. Police said their patrol came under fire near the town of Zubin Potok when it was trying to launch a boat into Gazivoda Lake, part of the border.
In an attempt to defuse the tension, the leaders of the two countries, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, will meet in Brussels on August 18.
About 50,000 Serbs live in the north of Kosovo, but do not recognize its 2008 declaration of independence and maintain close ties to Belgrade.
Kosovo is recognized by more than 100 countries, mostly Western, but not Serbia, Russia, China and others.
The fragile peace in Kosovo is maintained by NATO’s KFOR mission, which has 3,770 troops. For now NATO is only monitoring the situation, but has said it is ready to intervene according to its mandate if stability is threatened.