Just another in my unofficial series about Brits getting better and better acquainted with Kosovars/Kosovans/Kosovarians/Kosovaristanians…a.k.a. Albanians. This is how they celebrate Kosovo independence — and what a fitting tribute it is. Maybe next year London police will show a little respect for the holy day by not interrupting the festivities and letting Kosovars be Kosovars.

Trafalgar Square brawl leads to stabbings and arrests (Feb. 18)

British detectives question 19 teenagers after running battles in tourist center.

A day after gangs of youths armed with knives, hockey sticks and other weapons fought running battles across Trafalgar Square, British detectives were questioning 19 teenagers over the stabbing of three people.

Eyewitnesses said young men clashed violently during “90 minutes of mayhem” on Thursday on the pedestrianised area around Nelson’s Column and on nearby roads.

Dozens of police raced to the square and arrested 19 people, the youngest of whom was 14. “Officers were called to the scene at around [4 p.m.] to reports of a large fight and a man being stabbed,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.

Three teenagers — one 18-year-old and two aged 19 — were in stable condition in central London hospitals suffering from stab wounds, according to Sky News.

The fighting is believed to have involved rival gangs of Albanian Kosovars from several parts of the capital, according to the Daily Mail. The fighting took place on the third anniversary of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia.

Investigators have seized footage from several CCTV and traffic cameras that cover the area around the square.

Superintendent Simon Ovens told the Daily Echo: “This appears to have been a spontaneous incident and our officers were on scene extremely quickly, resulting in 19 people currently being held in custody.

“However, it is going to take some time for us to speak to them all and establish a clear picture of exactly what happened. Trafalgar Square is an incredibly busy place and I would urge anyone who was in the vicinity yesterday evening and may have seen something to come forward and talk to us.

“This sort of violence will not be tolerated in any part of central London and will always result in the robust police response we saw yesterday.”

Commemorating the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, the central London square is one of the most famous in the world and is often used as a focal point for political demonstrations and community gatherings.

It was most recently used by groups protesting in solidarity with those in Cairo’s Tahrir Square calling for the resignation of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak.

Another report: Battle of Trafalgar Square: Police question 19 over daylight stabbings (Feb. 18)

Groups of youths armed with knives and hockey sticks fought pitched battles around Nelson’s Column in broad daylight yesterday afternoon. Onlookers described gangs of young men running into the square, wielding their weapons, during 90 minutes of clashes.

Dozens of police were scrambled to the square as the fighting broke out. Those arrested over the violence are understood to include a 13-year-old boy and other youths aged 16.

The three injured teenagers - one 18-year-old and two aged 19 - were taken to hospital. One of the 19-year-olds had four stab wounds to the head, arm and back. The other suffered wounds to his neck, back and leg. The 18-year-old had been stabbed twice in the chest. One of the 19-year-olds was released after treatment and the other two victims were today said to be in a stable condition.

The trouble is believed to have involved rival gangs of Albanian Kosovans from areas across London, including Bromley and Wood Green. The fighting took place on Kosovo National Day, marking the third anniversary of the country’s independence from Serbia.

One insider said: “Whenever there are high-profile events such as this these gangs meet to show their muscle, to fight to see who is the most powerful. Next day they will boast on Facebook about what they did.”

Another source in the Albanian community claimed the clash was part of a long feud between a gang called the OTR from south London and a group called the Hell Albanians, composed mostly of young teenagers trying to ape more serious gangsters.

Didi Mae, 21, a student at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, took pictures as some of the youths were arrested or treated by paramedics.

She said: “I was walking through Trafalgar Square and a load of guys came running towards me. It looked like they had taken whatever weapons they could.

“I thought it was a flashmob but it became apparent that it was not as innocent as it looked. They all looked young and seemed to be wearing a lot of black. It took me a few seconds to realise what was going on.” […]