Fires from a Kalashnikov pierce the night. It’s a brief staccato explosion skyward, north of the bridge that divides two furious villages that have been at war with one another for more than 22 years.
In order to stop the homicidal activities of Serbian nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic’s forces in Kosovo, there was a ground invasion threat, an unprecedented NATO military air campaign, and international sanctions. By October 2000, Milosevic had withdrawn from power in the face of escalating resistance. The Western Balkans then experienced a fragile peace and the emergence of an independent Kosovar state. Things have worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine. Attacks against the special operations troops of Kosovo have intensified, some of which have used hand grenades and automatic firearms. But the underlying problems are still unresolved. Particularly in the city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, where a proud Serbian minority continues to maintain strong ties to Belgrade and Moscow, occasionally engaging in violent acts of defiance against the ethnic Albanian-led government in Pristina, the country’s capital. The city of Mitrovica is divided. The Ibar River divides them. While dwindling Bosniak and other minority communities are caught in the middle, Serbs and Albanians live in the north and south, respectively. Although it is a region abundant in natural resources, due to political, religious, and ethnic divisions, their exploitation is prohibited.