Sweden: Russia's involvement in the Banjska attack is being investigated
The Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo, Xhelal Sveçla, said that Kosovo is investigating the possible involvement of Russia in the attack on the Police in Banjska in Zveçan.
On September 24, Sergeant Afrim Bunjaku was killed and several policemen were injured, after the law enforcement authorities were attacked by an armed group. Also, three suspected attackers were killed during the exchange of fire.
Kosovo has blamed Serbia for this attack, which it calls terrorist. Belgrade has denied having a hand in the events in Banjska i Zveçani.
Svečla said in an interview with The Associated Press that investigators are looking at evidence linking Russia - Serbia's ally - to the armed attack. Russian weapons and equipment and other documents suggest Russian involvement in the armed attack, he said.
"What we know for sure is that [the attackers] came from Serbia. Some of them are Kosovo Serbs, who have dual citizenship - of Kosovo and Serbia - and according to information from our intelligence, they were trained in camps in Serbia".
"We found some documents that make us suspect that there were individuals from Russia as well," he said. "As for the equipment, we have evidence, but as for the individuals, we still only have suspicions."
There are fears in the West that Russia, acting through Serbia, could aim to destabilize the Balkans and divert attention from its occupation of Ukraine. Russia has offered support to Serbia after the attack in Banjska, accusing the West of failing to protect Kosovo Serbs.
Sveçla said that based on the testimonies gathered and the drone footage, some of the attackers, whom he referred to as "terrorists", were wearing masks during the operation.
"Even the members of the group who were arrested did not know who they were," he said. "So they are either senior officials of the Serbian security sector, or they came directly from Russia."
According to Svečla, the purpose of the operation seemed to be to take control of the north of Kosovo with the ultimate goal of separating this area - inhabited by a majority of Serbs - from the rest of the country.
“Ata kishin mbi 100 uniforma. Ata po planifikonin që të rekrutonin më shumë persona brenda [komuniteteve] ku jetojnë serbët... Institucionet e Kosovës më pas do të duhej të përballeshin me disa qindra terroristë, sipas skenarit që ata kishin planifikuar”.
Ai i bazoi këto pretendime edhe në bazë të armatimeve të shumta që tha se Policia gjeti në Banjskë.
Sipas Sveçlës, rreziku për një kryengritje të re nuk ka kaluar.
“Nuk kemi përleshje, por kemi informacione se trajnimi i terroristëve të tillë po vazhdon në Serbi”, tha ai.
“Në Kosovë ka ende persona që janë pjesë e këtij grupi”, tha Sveçla për AP-në.
Aktualisht, katër persona janë të arrestuar për ngjarjet në Banjskë, teksa Policia ka ekspozuar më 25 shtator armë dhe pajisje të tjera që ka thënë se janë konfiskuar në këtë fshat.
Kosovo has made Serbia responsible for the attack, while Belgrade officially blames the Kosovo Serbs.
Sveçla has previously presented drone footage, saying that it shows the vice president of the Serbian List, Millan Radoicic, armed in Banjska. The Kosovar official said that Radoicic led and participated in the September 24 attack.
The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, said that Radoicic is in Serbia and will be interrogated. However, he said that he does not know what was the purpose of the group that carried out the attack in Kosovo.
The United States and the European Union have strongly condemned the attack and demanded that those responsible face justice./rel