Ban Ki-moon mourns death of UN police officer in Kosovo
Kynol Ivor, 25, was part of the Ukrainian Formed Police Unit (FPU) and was killed in an operation undertaken – jointly by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR – to reclaim the courthouse in North Mitrovica which was stormed and occupied on 14 March.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said that he “calls on all parties to refrain from violence and to engage in a constructive dialogue and work together to promote security and stability in Kosovo.”
Extending his condolences to the officer’s family, the Secretary-General also thanked the Ukrainian Government for its “dedicated commitment” to the UN’s work in Kosovo.
Also mourning the policeman’s death, a senior UNMIK official today said the recent violence is “unacceptable” and will not be tolerated.
“Our condolences go to the family of the Ukrainian police officer who was killed by this mob, who was murdered by this mob,” said the Secretary-General’s Principal Deputy Special Representative in Kosovo, Larry Rossin, at a press briefing.
Characterizing the 14 March attack on the courthouse as an “orchestrated occupation,” he said that there had been several attempts to persuade Serbia's Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardzic, as well as Kosovo Serb political figures in Mitrovica, to resolve the situation peacefully.
Despite such communications, the courthouse continued to be occupied by some 40 people, including some officers of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior,” Mr. Rossin noted. Additionally, UNMIK received information that those who carried out the courthouse attack were planning to occupy another UN building in the area.
After planning and consulting with both KFOR and the Police Commissioner, he said he authorized the operation which began early yesterday morning to regain control of the courthouse and restore law and order.
Despite originally starting out peacefully, the situation deteriorated into violence, with a mob attacking first with rocks, then with Molotov cocktails. Shortly after, UN police and KFOR troops came under direct gunfire and hand grenade attacks, resulting in 42 UN police officers and 22 KFOR troops sustaining injuries.
“I hesitate to call them demonstrators, because demonstrating implies peacefully and this was far, far beyond the limit of what is acceptable,” Mr. Rossin said of the mob.
He added that 32 of those occupying the courthouse were temporarily detained, processed and released back to North Mitrovica. “Criminal investigations into all these illegal acts, including murder and attempted murder, perpetrated on UNMIK and on KFOR soldiers are ongoing and we firmly intend to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.”
The situation in the area is now calm, but tense, Mr. Rossin observed, urging all to respect the rule of law and to allow UNMIK to carry out its mandate.
Last month, the Assembly of Kosovo's Provisional Institutions of Self-Government declared independence from Serbia, and since then the Secretary-General has underlined the need for restraint from all sides.