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NATO deploys more troops to Kosovo amid violence

NATO on Tuesday deployed additional forces to Kosovo, a day after peacekeeping troops were injured in clashes with Serb protesters in the country.

11 Italian and 19 Hungarian soldiers belonging to Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led peacekeeping mission, were wounded in northern Kosovo while working to contain violent demonstrations. Three of the Hungarian soldiers were injured by the use of firearms, according to KFOR. 

NATO condemned the attacks and called “on all sides to refrain from actions that further inflame tensions, and to engage in dialogue.” 

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Allied Joint Force Command Naples said NATO is sending the Operational Reserve Forces (ORF) for the Western Balkans to Kosovo. 

“JFC Naples is closely monitoring the situation in Kosovo, and will continue to coordinate with KFOR to ensure that they have all the capabilities and forces they need to impartially ensure a safe and secure environment and the freedom of movement for all communities,” it said, noting that additional reserve forces have been ordered to boost readiness to reinforce KFOR if needed.

Admiral Stuart B. Munsch, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, said in a statement that “the deployment of additional NATO forces to Kosovo is a prudent measure to ensure that KFOR has the capabilities it needs to maintain security in accordance with our U.N. Security Council Mandate.”  

“I want to commend KFOR for taking swift, restrained, and professional action to intervene to stop the unrest and to save lives,” he said, adding: “The violence must stop, and all sides must stop taking actions to undermine the peace in any and all communities of Kosovo.”

Tensions are running high in the region. On Friday, the U.S., France, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. issued a joint statement condemning Kosovo’s decision to force access to municipal buildings in northern Kosovo. The five countries also said they are “concerned by Serbia’s decision to raise the level of readiness of its Armed Forces at the border with Kosovo and call all parties for maximum restraint, avoiding inflammatory rhetoric.”

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