Shooting against EULEX in northern Kosovo: one dead (maj5)

(credit: Koha Ditore)

(BRUSSELS2) A gunshot fatally struck an agent of the European EULEX mission today (September 19) in northern Kosovo. It was " around 7:30 this morning. And the two Eulex vehicles with 6 people on board – Eulex agents – were in circulation, having just made a rotation at the “Gate 1” border point (with Serbia), when they were caught under shots, of unknown origin, fired near Zveçan/Zvečan » (commune which borders Mitrovica north). The EULEX agent was then fatally shot in the head.

A Lithuanian killed, a Czech injured

According to our information, he is a Lithuanian customs officer. “ A young man who leaves behind a wife and his family. said Bernd Borchardt, head of EULEX mission (*). “ I am shocked, very shocked, and sad » he declared during a press conference. The emergency services and doctors have everything tried to save him ". But the prognosis was already set. The European vehicles were – it seems – deliberately targeted with several shots, according to the first elements of the investigation. Another agent (Czech) was evacuated to the hospital, injured or perhaps simply concussed if we are to believe the first statements of the EULEX head of mission. His life is not in danger, according to the mission. In addition to the Lithuanian and the Czech, a Greek, a Dane, a Bulgarian and a Croatian were on board the vehicles.

Sector cordoned off, investigation in progress

La Task Force of Mitrovica was immediately activated and a murder investigation opened. The case is referred to the special prosecutor (SPRK). The area has been cordoned off. Special units from Eulex and KFOR were deployed. No effort will be spared to bring the perpetrator to justice. » specifies a press release from EULEX which “ condemns in the strongest possible terms this act marked by cowardly violence against its teams. A call for witnesses was launched following this incident. People with people to give are invited to give their testimony by telephone on +381 38 78 5555 or 5556.

Highly politicized incidents

The situation was occasionally tense in this region of Kosovo. The mission was already targeted by snipers last year (read: Shooting against a EULEX vehicle at a key moment for Kosovo) Incidents which are not totally devoid of political meaning: they are thus more frequent as key moments of negotiation and Serbian-Kosovar rapprochement approach. The current period, with the municipal elections and the latest agreements between Belgrade and Pristina being discussed, is particularly tense at the political level. “ The investigation will tell us who is behind this attack. (But) we have the feeling that this attack is directly directed against the ongoing normalization process that we are trying to facilitate with the dialogue initiated, for Kosovo in general and the north in particular » quickly indicated Samuel Žbogar, the EU special representative in Kosovo.

38th death

This is the 38th death to be reported in European crisis management teams since 1990 (according to our database). But the first in Kosovo, and even in the Balkans, committed intentionally against European teams (apart from accidents and mines) since the 1990s and the shooting against a helicopter of European observers. Read : *In Memoriam. Diplomats and soldiers who died on EC / EU missions

(maj) Reactions in Kosovo… and at European level

Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci condemned the attack. According to the daily Koha Ditore, the president also launched an appeal to “ calmed down ", on the eve of the municipal elections, “ to enable a free and dignified vote for all citizens in all parts of Kosovo ". NB: The Kosovar Prime Minister was, more or less, in favor of a rapid departure of the European EULEX mission from Kosovo.

The UN special representative, Farid Zarif, also condemned (at 11 a.m.) this attack. “ This act of violence is a direct attack on the principles of peace, justice and good citizenship that the international missions present in Kosovo serve. Any attack against one of the representatives of the international community is an attack against the international community as a whole he asserted. He also called urgently everyone to avoid any speculation on the motives and identities of those who are responsible (and of) let the investigators do their job”.

As for the High Representative, Cathy Ashton, she expressed her “deep sadness”, expressing her condolences to the family and friends of the victim”. She condemned this attack — "The perpetrators must be brought to justice" — and affirmed the “determination of the European Union to continue its commitments in Kosovo and its efforts in the context of dialogue” initiated between Pristina and Belgrade (EU-facilitated dialogue). She also called all parties to redouble their efforts to implement the agreements already endorsed, to normalize relations and improve the lives of the people on the ground in northern Kosovo (**).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(*) The identity of the deceased Lithuanian has, in the meantime, been revealed by the mission. This is Audrius Šenavičius, aged 35

(**) Original text (English): “I was deeply saddened by the death of the Lithuanian member of EULEX staff in northern Kosovo this morning. I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. I condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack that led to the death of the staff member. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. The European Union is determined to continue its engagement and commitment in Kosovo and will press on with its work in the context of the EU-facilitated dialogue. I appeal to all parties to redouble their efforts to implement the agreements reached, to normalize relations and to improve the lives of the people on the ground in northern Kosovo.”

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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