KFOR denies that they negotiated the withdrawal of Banjska attackers

FOTO: KoSSev

KFOR has denied claims that the mission negotiated the withdrawal of attackers from Banjska in September of last year. „This is inaccurate. At no time was KFOR involved in the purported negotiations,” they said. In the meantime, media report that Goran Petronijević, Milan Radoičić’s lawyer, who headed the attack in Banjska, also denied allegations of negotiations on withdrawal.

Early in the morning of September 24 last year, an armed conflict broke out between an armed group of Serbs led, by his own admission, Milan Radoičić, and members of the Kosovo Police.

In the conflict, at the entrance to the village, a sergeant of the regular unit of the Kosovo Police was killed, as well as three members from the armed group of Serbs, while several others were wounded and arrested.

On that day and in the following days, speculations ran rampant as to how many people were part of the group that clashed with the police, how they managed to escape on the same day, presumably to central Serbia.

Neither Belgrade, nor Pristina, nor the international community gave an answer to this question.

The claim that KFOR allegedly negotiated the withdrawal of the attackers from Banjska – despite the lack of confirmation from NATO officials, was included in at least two international reports, namely a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) and a preliminary draft of the Defense and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

The Crisis Group stated in its report published at the beginning of April that KFOR allegedly negotiated the withdrawal of the group of Serbs.

“A tense standoff ensued between the group and Kosovo special police surrounding them. Fearing a bloodbath, KFOR negotiated the group’s withdrawal into the surrounding woods…“ the report reads.

The same claim was then found in the new preliminary draft of the report of the Defense and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, with reference to the allegations of the International Crisis Group.

KFOR denies allegations

This afternoon KoSSev reached out to KFOR regarding these allegations.

However, KFOR denied the claims, commenting exclusively on the report of the International Crisis Group.

“In its account of the violence that occurred in Banjska in September 2023, the report states that: ‘Fearing a bloodbath, KFOR negotiated the [Serb fighters’] group’s withdrawal into the surrounding woods, from which they melted away.’ This is inaccurate. At no time was KFOR involved in the purported negotiations,” KFOR said.

They added that the mission, “after being called upon to reinforce its presence”:

“Coordinated closely with the Kosovo Police and the EU Rule of Law (EULEX) mission to restore security in the area.”

They recalled that the events in Banjska were preceded with the May incident in Zvečan.

“The violence that occurred in Banjska came after an attack against KFOR peacekeepers in May 2023, which resulted in the wounding of 93 KFOR personnel, some of whom suffered life-changing injuries.”

They added that NATO has “always maintained that the facts must be established and the perpetrators must face justice.”

“In the wake of the violence, NATO has deployed around 1,000 additional peacekeepers and heavier armour to Kosovo. This has been the biggest reinforcement of our contingent in Kosovo in a decade; and it shows that NATO stands ready to preserve peace.”

Finally, KFOR concluded that they continue to implement its mandate – based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 – to ensure a safe and secure environment for all people living in Kosovo.

They also recalled the fact that KFOR is the third security responder, after the Kosovo Police and EULEX – with whom they “work in close coordination.”

In the meantime, according to media reports, Goran Petronijević, lawyer of Milan Radoičić, also denied allegations of negotiations on withdrawal with KFOR.

“Bearing in mind the lies that appeared in some media and the alleged reports of international organizations stating that there were negotiations or an agreement based on which my client Milan Radoičić and his comrades retreated after the events in the village of Banjska, we reject these lies as pure fabrications and I claim that my client and his comrades did not negotiate with anyone, not even with KFOR,” Petronijević stressed.



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