Kosovo: Several injured, cars torched at Kosovska Mitrovica (InSerbia.com, June 22)

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA – Several people have been injured and a number of cars set on fire in the riots that broke out during the protest of ethnic Albanians at the southern side of the main bridge in Kosovska Mitrovica on Sunday, over the Peace Park being built at the bridge.

Ethnic Albanians gathered…chanting “U-C-K” [KLA] and waving Albanian and U.S. flags, but soon after clashed with the police in the security cordon.

The protesters threw rocks and bottles at members of the Kosovo police and EULEX, who responded by firing tear gas and shock bombs to break up the riots. Two vehicles of the Kosovo police and one UN vehicle were torched and according to unofficial sources two police officers were injured.

Guarding the main bridge over the Ibar are the U.S. KFOR troops, Kosovo police intervention units and members of the EULEX mission. Several armed vehicles of EULEX are placed near the bridge on the northern side.

Serbs from the northern Kosovska Mitrovica gathered at the intersection near the bridge to see how the situation will unfold in the southern part of the city.

Ethnic Albanians from southern Kosovska Mitrovica used social networks to organize and stage a protest at the Ibar bridge over the construction of Peace Park, which was built on the city’s main bridge several days ago, after the concrete roadblock had been removed.

The mayor of southern Kosovska Mitrovica Agim Bahtiri said Saturday that patience is wearing thin, and that the new Ibar bridge barricade, in the form of a park, must be removed immediately. […]

Now notice how BBC reported on the same controversy:

Clashes in Kosovo’s Mitrovica over bridge blockade
The bridge in Mitrovica has often been the focus of ethnic clashes (BBC, June 22)

Demonstrators in Kosovo have clashed with police at a bridge between the local Albanian and Serb communities in the northern city of Mitrovica.

Police used tear gas against hundreds of ethnic Albanian protesters, who threw rocks and set police cars alight. Some officers and civilians were hurt.

The riot came after local minority Serbs rebuilt a barricade at the key bridge straddling the River Ibar.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Serbia rejects Kosovo’s independence, although the two sides normalised relations in 2013.

Many ethnic Serbs in Kosovo are reluctant to integrate with the Albanian communities.

Local Serbs had blockaded the north side of the Mitrovica bridge for the past three years.

The rubble was removed last week. [By Belgrade, it doesn’t mention, causing the Albanians to initially rejoice, thinking the way would be open for the rest of their conquest; then when things momentarily stopped going their way, a tantrum was launched as usual.] However, it was quickly blocked again with flower pots and earth - described by some Serb residents as a “peace park”.

The long-standing blockade was a symbol of the Serb community’s rejection of Kosovo’s self-declared independence - and the authority of the government in Pristina, the BBC’s Balkans correspondent Guy Delauney reports.

Kosovo police spokesman Avni Zahiti said 13 policemen and 10 civilians were injured.

In 1998, Serbia responded to separatist pressure from Kosovo by launching a crackdown on the territory’s Albanian population, which was brought to an end by Nato military intervention in 1999.

After the second sentence — which mentions that the rioters being subdued are Albanian — all action and responsibility shift to “Serbs,” starting with the very next sentence. If one goes to the link, the captions under the photos don’t give anything away either, reading simply: “Police said at least six cars were set alight and many more were damaged”; “A Kosovo Albanian man held an Albanian flag during the clashes”; “Riot police used tear gas to stop protesters from crossing the bridge.”

Everything taken together, the reader leaves with the usual sense that the troublemakers are Serbs.

Notice in particular the line about the Serbs being the ones reluctant to integrate with the Albanians. Never mind “Young Albanians Reject Serb Friendship.” Or maybe the writers missed the Albanian feces smeared on the walls of houses intended for Serb returnees. Or maybe they missed the past 15 years of just how deadly it is for a Serb trying to integrate with the “Albanian community” and why they’ve had to live in enclosed enclaves, sometimes only 500 meters around.

Notice also the innovative way the BBC team has fused the two different ways that MSM traditionally closes an article, that is with a short summary of the 1999 conflict. Whereas it initially was that Belgrade was trying to cleanse the Albanian population, later switching to it having been a ‘counteroffensive’ or ‘crackdown’ on ‘rebels’ or ’separatists,’ now what we have is a ‘crackdown’ on the ‘Albanian population.’

Here I notice in an article from last November, that Reuters found the least problematic, most accurate-sounding way to say it all: “Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999, when NATO bombed for 11 weeks to halt the killing and expulsion of Albanian civilians by Serbian forces trying to crush a guerrilla insurgency.”