Ethnic Serb gunmen in armoured vehicles stormed a village in north Kosovo on Sunday, battling police and barricading themselves in a monastery in a resurgence of violence in the restive north that killed four people, writes Reuters.
The siege centred on a Serbian Orthodox monastery near the village of Banjska in the Serb-majority region where monks and pilgrims hid inside a temple as a shootout raged.
One police officer and three of the attackers died, according to authorities in Kosovo and Serbia.
Ethnic Albanians form the vast majority of the 1.8 million population of Kosovo, a former province of Serbia.
But some 50,000 Serbs in the north have never accepted Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence and still see Belgrade as their capital, more than two decades after a Kosovo Albanian guerrilla uprising against repressive Serbian rule.
A group of Kosovo Serbs positioned trucks on a bridge into the village, shooting at police who approached them, before the battle moved to the nearby monastery, according to accounts by both Kosovo police and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
The gunmen had left the monastery by night, the Serbian Orthodox Church said, though it was unclear where they went.
Vucic said the action was a rebellion against Kurti, who has refused to form an association of Serb municipalities in north Kosovo: “Serbia will never recognise independent Kosovo, you can kill us all”.
Two Serbs were seriously injured and a fourth among them may have died, Vucic said. He condemned the killing of the police officer and urged restraint from Kosovo Serbs.