Warnings about misinformation in the Kosovo media regarding the SOC in Kosovo

FOTO: KoSSev

Sources close to the SOC in Kosovo alerted that today and yesterday, there has been a surge of misinformation and fake news surrounding the tragic events in Kosovo yesterday.

Several news pieces published on certain Kosovo media platforms claimed that the attacks was carried out from the Banjska monastery by terrorists, and that weapons were found in one the monastery’s buildings, as well as allegations that three monks were spotted this morning at the main police station in Pristina, as it is insinuated, for questioning related to hiding terrorists in the monastery. These allegations and assertions have been denied by sources close to the SOC.

International representatives confirmed that the Kosovo Police, after a search yesterday afternoon, discovered weapons inside the abandoned vehicles of the armed attackers, but only in the vicinity of the monastery. This follows yesterday’s confirmation by the Kosovo Police about a large arsenal of weapons and military equipment that were found, both in some residential buildings and vehicles.

“NO WEAPONS according to international sources in Kosovo were found in the search within the Monastery and its premises. The Church had absolutely nothing with these tragic events and the monks with pilgrims were merely caught in the crossfire. Thank God no one in the Monastery was hurt. The pilgrims are expected to leave home today,” they stated.

Furthermore, they recalled yesterday’s Diocese statement that the armed individuals with masks had breached the locked gates of the monastery and exchanged fire with the police.

According to KoSSev’s findings, the attackers first broke into the guest house located outside of the monastery complex, but right next to the monastery walls, drove out the pilgrims from Novi Sad who had spent the night there, and who then retreated to the inner monastery complex and locked the gate. After some time, this group of armed attackers broke into the monastery itself with an armored vehicle, breaking the gate.

“Malicious attacks and the spread of false information on some social media platforms in Kosovo, targeting our Church, our monks, and the pilgrims at the Banjska monastery, who endured significant stress and experienced a harrowing ordeal—do not foster peace but only escalate interethnic tensions in Kosovo,” they said, adding:

“Fr. Danilo, the Abbot of the Monastery, our monks in Banjska, and the pilgrims who continued their prayers in the church amidst the ongoing gunfire were true heroes. They do not deserve the spiteful remarks from trolls and haters on some social media platforms.”

They recalled that the Diocese was among the first to strongly denounce the violence in northern Kosovo yesterday, appeal for calm and express condolences for all who lost their lives.

“Our monks and pilgrims at the Banjska monastery, where the armed group entered forcefully escaping from the police and put up resistance, faced direct threats to their safety. They deserve solidarity and respect“.

Another media misrepresentation occurred today when three SOC monks were photographed outside the police station in Pristina this morning. They were there not in connection to the events in North Kosovo but to handle their documentation with assistance of the OSCE, these sources underlined, thus confirming KoSSev’s previous findings.

“Bishop Teodosije has consistently called for a de-escalation of tensions and for the restoration of peace, continuously liaising with KFOR, EULEX, and the Quint Embassies. Our Church remains steadfastly committed to addressing all issues in Kosovo through peaceful means and dialogue.”

What did the Kosovo media report this morning?

„Serb priests spotted in the police station in Pristina“ – reads the headline published by Indeksonline this morning. Periskopi, while publishing close-up pictures of the monks, wrote: „The night after the murder of the Kosovo policeman, Serb priests spotted in Pristina at the police station.“ Stories published that link the Serbian Orthodox Church to the terrorist attacks in the north, as yesterday’s incidents have been described in Pristina.

„The night after the serious situation that happened in the north of Mitrovica, Serb priests were spotted near the police station 92 in Pristina. Three clerics were seen at the entrance to the police station in the center of Pristina in the early hours of Monday. Their arrival in Pristina is probably linked to the fate of pilgrims who were taken advantage of by Serbian terrorists in Banjska and Zvecan. It is expected that the clergy will answer for the Banjska monastery, which was used as a hideout for terrorists yesterday, and how a religious building was also turned into a weapons storage facility,“ Indeksonline writes.

The photographed clergy are actually monks from Visoki Decani who traveled to Pristina for regular procedures related to obtaining Kosovo IDs, which has been one of the most difficult issues the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo has been facing for years. Moreover, two of the three monks who were photographed are blind.

Meanwhile, Koha practically denied the reports of Indeksonline. With the title „Priests requested a residence permit, the Kosovo police have not yet met with them“, they referred to the director of the Department for Migration and Foreigners, Kushtrim Haliti, who confirmed that the monks came to the central police station to extend their residence permit, and not to be questioned by the KP.

While noting that the media reported that the priests had gone to the police station to be questioned because of the recent events in the north, they denied those allegations, adding Haliti’s statement that it was a completely different monastery (and not Banjska).

 



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