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Kosovo border police targeted with 'grenade and AK47', authorities say

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By Euronews  with Reuters
The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.
The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.   -   Copyright  REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

Two vehicles of the Kosovo border police have come under fire near the country's northern border with Serbia, the country's interior ministry said on Friday.

The patrol cars were ambushed and hit with a hand grenade and an AK-47 assault rifle while on their way to change border shifts, a statement read. No one was reportedly injured.

Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla stated at a press conference that there have been four separate attacks against Kosovo police forces in the last three days, all in the north of the country, mostly populated by a Serb minority.

These incidents in the north of the country are intended to "intimidate the police and the citizens in general," he told reporters.

However, Sveçla indicated that this was not ethnically motivated, claiming that the attacks are most likely meant to intimidate the law enforcement after it ramped up its efforts to crack down on illegal smuggling, mostly of goods from Serbia.

Sveçla also displayed images of the damage to police cars during the press conference.

The Director-General of Kosovo Police, Samedin Mehmeti, said that the attacks had taken place in a "systematic way".

"Firstly spikes were used on the roads, then attacks with rocks, weapons were fired and finally the Kosovo Police Patrol was shot at."

Tensions are still simmering in northern Kosovo, two decades after Serb forces conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the former province of Serbia that left more than 12,000 people dead and displaced almost two million mostly ethnic Albanians.

The conflict was effectively ended in 1999 after a NATO intervention against Serbia and the regime of Slobodan Milošević, who was indicted in front of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for his role in the wars in the 1990s.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move recognised by most EU nations and the US but not by Serbia.