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BBC: Serbia has put troops on high alert due to rising tensions in the region

27-12-2022 |

The Serbian army says it is at its "highest level of combat readiness" after weeks of escalating tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.

President Aleksandar Vucic says he will "take all measures to protect our people and preserve Serbia".

The sabre-rattling is louder than ever and follows media claims that Pristina is preparing "an attack" on ethnic Serb areas in north Kosovo.

The government in Pristina has made no comment about the allegations, but it has previously accused Mr Vucic of playing "games" to stir up trouble.

The European Union has been attempting to mediate. The 27-member bloc is calling for "maximum restraint".

Belgrade has increased its armed presence on the border in recent days after conflicting reports about a shooting incident in which no-one was hurt. Reports from Belgrade alleged ethnic Serbs had come under attack, but the claim was rejected by Kosovo authorities in Pristina.

Nevertheless, Serbia appeared to use the reports to justify intensifying its military presence on the border.

Nato, which has some 3,700 peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, has called on all parties to avoid provocations.

The European Union, which has a rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, has warned it will not tolerate attacks on EU police or criminal acts.

Last week, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said "we are really on the brink of armed conflicts" and blamed Pristina for making unilateral moves.

Ethnic Serbs set up roadblocks in the north on 10 December following the arrest of a former police officer suspected of attacking the Kosovo force.

When Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti called for the barricades to be removed, a protest attracted thousands of people, who accused him of making open threats against them.

About 600 ethnic Serbs resigned from Kosovo's police in November over plans to replace Serbian car licence plates with local registrations. The EU brokered an uneasy deal, with Kosovo dropping proposed fines and Serbia agreeing to halt new registrations in Kosovo.

Source: BBC