EU police officer shot dead in volatile northern Kosovo

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 19, 2013 4:10 AM

By Fatos Bytyci

PRISTINA (Reuters) - A European Union police officer in Kosovo was shot dead on Thursday in a northern, mainly Serb region where tensions are rising over a fragile accord between the Balkan country and its former master Serbia.

It appeared to mark the first fatality suffered by the EU mission, known as EULEX, since it deployed in 2008 after majority-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with the backing of the West.

The officer, whom EULEX did not identify, was killed when two EU vehicles "came under fire from unknown persons" at around 7.30 a.m. (0530 GMT) near Zvecan, a town in Kosovo's predominantly Serb north abutting Serbia, EULEX said in a statement.

The vehicles were part of a regular morning rotation from a border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia, one of two main border gates in the north that have been the focus of previous clashes between ethnic Serbs and NATO peacekeepers.

Serbs in northern Kosovo vehemently reject the 2008 secession from Serbia and are growing nervous over an April accord brokered by the EU to integrate the enclave with the rest of Kosovo.

Under the accord, Serbia agreed to cede its de facto hold over the north in exchange for the promise of accession talks with the European Union, which are expected to begin in January. The northern municipalities are due to take part in local elections in Kosovo in November.

(Additional reporting and writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)