Kosovo police suspend four officers accused of wounding a Serb

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Kosovo police on Tuesday suspended four officers who they accused in a statement of being involved in the wounding of a local Serb in the volatile north of the country and trying to hide the incident.

The man was shot in the shoulder late on Monday close to a check point controlled by special police forces. Doctors said his injury was not life threatening.

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The police at first denied any involvement in a statement early on Tuesday, but in a separate statement later in the day said an investigation had been launched against four officers, including the one who is believed to have fired the shot.

The statement said police have instructed the prosecution to file “further criminal proceedings.”

The US ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey Hovenier, said in a tweet that the US, which has been helping to train local police for more than two decades, was “deeply concerned by the initial denial made without due diligence.”

“Those responsible for criminal actions must be held accountable,” he said.

Tensions remain high in the northern part of Kosovo in the wake of a war in the late 1990s and decades of tense relations.

The area is home to some 50,000 Serbs, who refuse to recognize Kosovan authorities and continue to consider themselves as part of neighboring Serbia.

The area has been mainly under the control of Albanian policemen since November last year, when officers from the Serb community resigned en masse in protest at Pristina’s plan to replace Serbian car license number plates with those of Kosovo.

On March 18th, Pristina and Belgrade verbally agreed to implement a Western-backed plan aimed at improving ties.

Normalizing relations is a condition that both Balkan countries must meet to speed up their path to joining the European Union.

The main aim of the plan is to defuse tensions in the northern part of the country by offering more autonomy to local Serbs, while allowing Pristina to control that part of its territory.

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