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Serbia releases detained Kosovo police officers

June 26, 2023

Kosovo's prime minister said he was relieved that his officers were back with their families, but called for Serbian "aggression" to be held to account.

Kosovo police officers stand guard along a muddy road in a village in northern Kosovo, June 14, after Serbian authorities arrested three Kosovo police officers
With each flare up between Kosovo and Serbia, fears of a return to open conflict growImage: Valdrin Xhemaj/REUTERS

Serbia has released three Kosovar police officers that it detained earlier in the month, Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Monday.

Kurti wrote that "Although we are happy that they are returning to their families, their abduction is a grave human rights violation and must be sanctioned."

Earlier in the month, Kosovo's Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said Serbian forces had crossed the border and seized three police officers from a post well within Kosovo.

Both the European Union and the US had called on Serbia to release the officers in the days following their detention.

The spat was the latest in a series of confrontations between members of the Serbian minority in northern Kosovo and Kosovar Albanians.

Last month, protests turned violent after Serbian demonstrators tried to block newly elected ethnic Albanian mayors in their towns in the mainly Serb region of northern Kosovo. This followed disputed elections in April.

Tensions between the countries have been raised over the last few months, with Serbia having put its troops on the border with Kosovo on the highest state of alert following the violent clashes.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade does not recognize Pristina's independence and sees it as a breakaway state.

rm/rc (dpa, AP)