Serbian Police Remove Albanian Rebel Memorial in the South
More than 200 heavily-armed and masked Serbian police took down a memorial to ethnic Albanian guerrillas in Serbia’s south overnight, trying to end a row that has highlighted still-simmering tension in the region.
Security forces deployed armored personnel carriers to cordon off the main square in the southern, mainly Albanian, town of Presevo, and hauled away the memorial bearing the names of 27 guerrillas who died during an insurgency in the region in 2001, a Reuters reporter at the scene said on Sunday.
The scale of the operation, which followed weeks of threats and counter-threats between Serbian government officials and local ethnic Albanians, highlighted how fragile the situation remains in the south, which borders Serbia’s former Kosovo province.
Majority Albanian Kosovo declared independence in 2008 almost a decade after NATO air strikes wrested control of the territory from Belgrade to end a brutal Serbian counter-insurgency war.
The 2000-2001 insurgency in the southern Serbian regions of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac was widely seen as a spillover of the Kosovo conflict, as ethnic Albanians in Serbia’s south pressed to join newly-free Kosovo.