A Serbian official on Tuesday accused Kosovar authorities of trying to provoke Serbs in the country by shooting a member of the local community.
Petar Petkovic, head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, told local media that Serbian national Milan Jovanovic was wounded with a police firearm on the northern Leposavic-Mitrovica road on Monday night.
“He’s a taxi driver. Kosovar police shot at him without any warning,” said the head of the Serbian government’s coordination body.
Speaking to reporters after the incident, Jovanovic suggested that he was likely shot by police.
“I was returning home from work. I suddenly heard a noise and felt a pain in my shoulder. I didn’t see who was shooting, but I’m not sure if there was anyone other than Kosovo police in that area,” said Jovanovic.
Jovanovic was taken into surgery after the shooting and is currently in stable condition.
Kosovar police, however, have denied that its units were involved and said an investigation had been launched into the shooting and injury of a person before midnight.
“Kosovo police did not get involved in the shooting incident,” said a statement it released.
According to Petkovic, Kosovar officials are seeking to provoke local Serbs.
The incident came amid preparations for local elections on April 23 in four municipalities in the north of Kosovo, where Serbs mostly live, near the border with Serbia.
“(Kosovo Prime Minister Albin) Kurti obviously does not want peace and does not want to abide by the agreement reached. We are doing our best to maintain peace and security,” said Petkovic.
Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement last November to ease tensions over license plates for the Republic of Kosovo – a sticking point for some locals, especially ethnic Serbs living in the north.
Petkovic also said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would be meeting with representatives of Kosovar Serbs on April 13 in the southern Raska region near the border.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo periodically escalate as the two sides try to normalize relations.
At the end of March, the vehicles of local Serbs in northern Kosovo were set alight, apparently over the issue of Kosovo license plates.
Police said eight parked vehicles belonging to Serbs were set on fire by an unknown person or group.
Kosovo, predominantly inhabited by ethnic Albanians, broke off from Serbia in 1999 and declared independence in 2008. Serbia has not recognized its independence and sees its former province as a part of its territory.