BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia's president demanded Tuesday to have a NATO-led peacekeeping force take over for the national law enforcement agency in northern Kosovo after a daylong shootout between armed Serbs and Kosovar police left one officer and three gunmen dead.
In one of the worst confrontations since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, about 30 masked men opened fire on a police patrol near the village of Banjska early Sunday then broke down the gates of a Serbian Orthodox monastery and barricaded themselves with the priests and visiting pilgrims.
The violence further raised tensions in the Balkan region at a time when European Union and U.S. mediators have been pushing for a deal that would normalize ties between former wartime foes Serbia and Kosovo. A NATO bombing campaign on Serb positions in Kosovo led to the end of the 1998-99 war.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with ambassadors from five Western countries and the EU in Belgrade on Tuesday. He said he wanted the NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, to take over “all the security matters in the north of Kosovo instead of (Kosovo Prime Minister Albin) Kurti's police.”
Kurti accused the Serbian government on Sunday of logistically supporting “the terrorist, criminal, professional unit” that fired on Kosovo Police officers. Vucic denied the allegations, saying the gunmen were local Kosovo Serbs “who no longer want to withstand…