An ethnic Albanian is suspected of a drive-by shooting on the Orthodox holiday.
Ethnic Serbs blocked a major road in the south of Kosovo on Friday, in protest over a drive-by shooting of two youths on Christmas Eve. An 11-year-old boy and his 21-year-old cousin were shot not far from Strpce from a passing car, identified as belonging to an ethnic Albanian, as they walked with oak branches traditionally used to celebrate the holiday in the Orthodox Christian tradition.
“Someone wanted to give us a bloody Christmas,” tweeted Petar Petkovic, the Serbian government’s commissioner for Kosovo. He described the shooting as “an attempted murder.”
Cousins Milos and Stefan Stojanovic were taken to a hospital in nearby Gracanica. “One was shot in the hand and the other in the shoulder, and they survived only by sheer luck,” Petkovic’s office said in a follow-up statement. They blamed the attack on the “anti-Serb policy” of the ethnic Albanian authorities in Pristina, and demanded “a swift and decisive response from the international community.”
Even though the attacker’s vehicle was positively identified by local residents, the ethnic Albanian police let the suspected shooter go, according to the outlet Kosovo Online. The outraged residents of Gotovusa, a Serb village near Strpce, have blocked the road and intend to protest until the perpetrator is brought to justice.
Serbian media said on Friday evening that a 33-year old man was detained by local authorities in connection to the shooting incident.
A group of Polish soldiers from NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission has set up an observation post nearby, local media reported.
NATO troops took control of Kosovo in 1999, after nearly three months of bombing Serbia on behalf of ethnic Albanian insurgents. The province’s provisional government declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade has resisted US and EU pressure to recognize it, relying on support from Russia and China.
Last month, Serbs in the north of Kosovo set up roadblocks to protest the deployment of heavily armed ethnic Albanian police in their communities. The barricades were removed shortly before the New Year holiday, after the government in Belgrade claimed it received solid guarantees from Washington and Brussels that they would keep Pristina in line.