Saturday, June 16, 2012

KFOR unblocks roads, closes alternative crossing

ZUBIN POTOK -- KFOR troops removed their vehicles and unblocked the Kosovska Mitrovica-Ribariće road on Saturday.
The road through the village of Banja, which has served as an alternative crossing between northern Kosovo and central Serbia, is closed for traffic as of Saturday morning following a KFOR operation.
Barbed wire and concrete cones have been placed across the road, Tanjug has learnt.

The road, which Serbs have been using since last summer to travel between Ribariće and northern Kosovo, was closed Saturday morning when KFOR put up a sign saying "Stop, road closed."

Two EULEX SUVs and a French KFOR vehicle stood parked at the roadblock around noon.

Now Serbs have to use the Brnjak crossing , one of the two official checkpoints in the northern part of the province, to enter Kosovo from the direction of Ribariće.

EULEX officers are controlling traffic on this road.

So far, they have not stopped vehicles with license plates issued by the Serbian Interior Ministry from entering or leaving the province.

Serbs from the Ibarski Kolašin went home after Zubin Potok Mayor Slaviša Ristić asked them to leave.

KFOR troops blocked all roads leading to Zubin Potok and the Brnjak administrative crossing on Saturday morning in an operation aimed at closing an “unofficial crossing” near Brnjak.

According to KFOR, the operation should contribute to a peaceful and safe environment by preventing illegal crossing of the administrative line.

Its troops set up several checkpoints in several locations around 5:30 CET.

“After the operation has been completed, the checkpoints and cordons will be withdrawn,” KFOR added in a release earlier on Saturday.

Two persons were shot with rubber bullets in the village of Štuoce near Zubin Potok.

“Two persons were brought to the Zubin Potok Health Center. Both of them sustained minor inujureis from rubber bullets,“ Zubin Potok Health Center Director Aleksandra Stoimenov has said.

Large numbers of Serbs gathered in the village of Štuoce after KFOR troops with riot gear blocked the Kosovska Mitrovica-Ribariće road.

The KFOR used rubber bullets to disperse the Serbs and two of them were shot. The Italian KFOR troops then asked the Serbs to stay at least 70 meters away from them.

Zubin Potok Assembly Speaker Stevan Božović said on Saturday morning that “what KFOR is doing is occupation and violence against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija”.

“KFOR soldiers are preventing the freedom of movement and not Serbs as they accuse us,” he said and added that things that northern Kosovo Serbs were experiencing did not happen anywhere in the world.

“If something is suspicious to them, they should control both citizens and vehicles, instead of surrounding us with barbed wire as if northern Kosovo is a concentration camp,” Božović added.

KFOR also set up barbed wire in the villages of Jagnjenica and Gazivode. The citizens believe that the operation was aimed at forcing them to use the Brnjak crossing where their Serbian license plates will be seized.

Zubin Potok Mayor Slaviša Ristić has said that “KFOR has sided with Priština” and that it is trying to “completely isolate and block Serbs and surround them with barbed wire”.

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