In Kosovo, an off-duty soldier shot and wounded two Serbs, sparking concerns that ethnic conflicts could flare up again. "I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on two citizens of Kosovo," said Prime Minister Albin Kurti on Friday evening. He is deeply concerned about the wounds of the victims.
The 33-year-old soldier was arrested. He had opened fire on an 11-year-old and his 21-year-old cousin in the Serb-majority ski resort of Shterpce in southern Kosovo and fled. The motive for the attack was initially unclear. The two victims are not in mortal danger, the police said.
According to the Serbian government, the two cousins carried an oak trunk, which is traditionally felled by Serbian Orthodox Christians for the Orthodox Christmas celebration on January 7th. The Serbian government spoke of an "assassination attempt". Some Serbs blocked the main connecting road from Shterpce to the rest of the country after the incident.
Kosovo, a country of 1.8 million people with a majority Albanian population, declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but is still regarded by Belgrade as a breakaway Serbian territory. Belgrade is encouraging the approximately 120,000 members of the Serb minority in northern Kosovo in their attempts to defy the authority of the government in Pristina.
In December, the border conflict between Serbia and Kosovo came to a head. Serbian residents of Kosovo blocked traffic in the north of the country for weeks with roadblocks. They were only dismantled at the end of the month.