Conflicts & War

Armed men storm into Kosovo monastery after deadly clash with police

Belgrade, Sep 24 (EFE).- A Kosovo police officer was killed in a pre-dawn attack by a group of heavily armed men who later stormed a monastery in a village near the Serbian border, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said.

Kurti attributed the attack in the northern village of Banjska in Leposavic province to the militants allegedly supported by neighboring Serbia.

The prime minister described the assailants as “masked professionals armed with heavy weapons” who opened fire on a police patrol, killing one officer and injuring another.

He said security forces had since surrounded a Serbian armed group involved in the attack and demanded that they surrender.

“There are at least 30 heavily armed people. They are professionals with military and police backgrounds. They are under the siege of our police forces,” the prime minister told reporters.

“They are the ones who are attacking our police. They killed Afrim Bunjaku (the slain police officer) and injured Alban Rashit.”

He posted pictures on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), showing heavily armed people wearing masks around the monastery in Banjska.

He said the armed men came in jeeps and drove an armored vehicle they parked outside the monastery.

“You notice that there is a breastplate that is typical of a battlefield uniform. An organized formation has come to fight in Kosovo.”

The prime minister said a criminal group “with political, financial, and logistical support from Belgrade is attacking our country.”

Kurti did not give details of the siege or the exact location of the attackers.

The Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese of Raska-Prizren said the armed men stormed into the monastery near Banjska in an armored vehicle.

“The diocese is very concerned. Priests and pilgrims locked themselves inside the monastery’s temple for safety,” a diocese press statement said.

The statement did not specify the group’s identity but condemned “the violence against a religious institution” and urged “all parties to end the conflict.”

Earlier, a police statement said the clash killed a sergeant-rank police officer and injured a member of the border protection force.

The gunfire occurred when the cops went to Banjska to clear a roadblock.

Two trucks without license plates were parked on a bridge, obstructing access to the village near the border with Serbia.

When the police arrived, unknown persons opened fire and threw grenades at the patrol party.

President Vjosa Osmani has suspended her visit to New York after the attack.

Osmani said the incident was “orchestrated by Serbian criminal gangs,” describing it as an attack on “the sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo.”

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