PRISTINA, September 25 – The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani awarded the order “Hero of Kosovo” to Afrim Bunjaku, police officer killed by Serb gunmen in the north of the country, while a day of mourning was observed for him across the country. President Osmani said at the ceremony that sergeant Afrim Bunjaku defended order, law, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo.
“He fell in defense of the dignity of our Republic. Therefore today, on behalf of the citizens, I will grant a posthumous award, the highest order of the Republic ‘Hero of Kosovo’ to him. From today, our country has another hero, one more memory of a man who professionally and devotedly dedicated himself to the defense of the Republic for which he fell in line of duty,” she said at the memorial academy. Osmani said that today Kosovo is honoring a true hero, a brave and selfless police sergeant who sacrificed his life for the safety of all citizens.
“Afrim Bunjaku, like all the other members of the Kosovo police were challenged yesterday by the terrorist gangs led from Belgrade but they did what they had to do. They restored the law, protected our territorial integrity and sovereignty and restored dignity,” Osmani said.
About 30 masked men in combat uniforms opened fire on a police patrol near the village of Banjska in the early hours of Sunday, killing one officer and injuring another. They then fled to a nearby Serbian Orthodox monastery, breaking down the gates with an armored personnel carrier before barricading themselves in with priests and visiting pilgrims.
The stand-off ended when most of the attackers escaped on foot under cover of darkness on Sunday. Three of the gunmen were shot and killed by police.
Pristina accuses Belgrade of backing the “terrorists”, an accusation Serbia denies, saying they are Serbs from Kosovo protesting against the government there.
It is reported that two of the gunmen and four Serbs discovered nearby with communication equipment were arrested and are under investigation for terrorist acts.
Police showed journalists the arsenal of weaponry they had seized at the monastery, including 24 vehicles and an armored personal carrier, weapons, mines and grenades, missile launchers and a lot of ammunition.
Kosovo’s interior minister Xhelal Svecla called on Serbia to hand over six injured gunmen who are being treated at a hospital in Novi Pazar, the closest city across the border.
The minister said they had identified at least five of the attackers as members of the ethnic Serb Civil Protection organization, one of two groups which Pristina has declared illegal.
Based on evidence, the minister said it was very possible that Milan Radoicic, a leader of the Srpska List party and closely associated with Serbia’s president, was part of the group. Radoicic is banned from entering the US and the UK.
“It’s a terrorist, criminal, professional unit that had planned and prepared what they did and who are not a smuggling band but a mercenary structure which is politically, financially and logistically supported by official Belgrade,” said prime minister Albin Kurti. /argumentum.al