Authorities in Kosovo and Serbia have shared conflicting stories over the detainment of three Kosovo police officers in Serbia, including the location of the so-called arrest.
Kosovo authorities have described the incident as a “kidnapping.”
The Director of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo, Petar Petkovic, told reporters that the Kosovo police officers were arrested in Serbian territory near the border with Kosovo. Kosovo authorities, on the other hand, have claimed that the officers were arrested inside Kosovo, near the border with Serbia.
The lack of a clear demarcation agreement means that there is no clear border line between Kosovo and Serbia. Instead, Serbia has refused to recognise Kosovo’s independence, and considers the border as an “administrative line” rather than an international border.
According to Petkovic, three “special police members” linked to the Kosovo Prime Minister were arrested in the Serbian village of Gnjilica, in Raska municipality. Petkovic said the arrest happened “deep in the territory of central Serbia.”
“Members of our police did not set foot on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija,” he told reporters. He also claimed that Serbia was ready to offer “all evidence” for the case.
Serbian authorities have rejected kidnapping claims, and say the three police officers were heavily armed.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said “three Kosovo police officials have been kidnapped today in Leposavic in the place where there used to be an illegal smuggling route, which is located 300 meters within the territory of our state.”
“We suspect that they were kidnapped by the Serbian army, clearly as revenge by Serbia for yesterday’s arrest of the notorious criminal Milun ‘Lune’ Milenkovic, who represents one of the leaders of organized crime and smuggling,” Kurti wrote online.
“We request the immediate release of three kidnapped police officers and call on international factors to condemn this aggression by Serbia,” he continued.
Organised crime boss Milenkovic was arrested by the Kosovo police on Tuesday in the Serb-majority northern municipality of North Mitrovica. He was arrested on suspicion of orchestrating attacks against NATO peacekeepers earlier this year.
According to a Kosovo police press release, the three patrolling border police officers were “kidnapped deep in Kosovo territory.”
“Today at noon, the police unit which was composed of three officers, informed that in the vicinity of static checkpoint they spotted masked and armed persons. On this occasion, additional assistance units departed [to the scene]. On arrival, the assisting units saw only the official vehicle, but not police officers,” it continued.
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