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Serbian president visits barracks on border with Kosovo as tensions rise

origin 1Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during the 56th Security Conference in Munich. Sven Hoppe/dpa

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić visited an army barracks in the town of Raska, near the border with Kosovo, as tension between the sides is high.

On his Instagram page on Tuesday evening, Vučić posted a photo showing him with Serbian Chief of Staff Milan Mojsilović. He thanked all members of the security forces, writing that they would do anything to protect the Serbs in Kosovo.

Nearly three weeks ago, Serbian militants erected barricades in predominantly Serb northern Kosovo, mainly blocking roads at border crossings with Serbia.

They are protesting the arrest of a Serbian-born former Kosovo police officer who, according to Kosovo authorities, had carried out attacks on election commission officials. The militants are supported and partly led by the Belgrade government.

Kosovo, which was once part of Serbia, but whose population is now almost exclusively Albanian, has been independent since 2008. Serbia has not recognized it and continues to claim the territory.

In 1999, NATO bombed Serbia after Serbian security forces killed and expelled Albanian civilians.

Raska is located about 10 kilometers from the border with Kosovo. The barracks Vučić visited are not far from a 5-kilometer buffer zone along the border with Kosovo, which Serbian security forces can only enter with the permission of the NATO-led security force KFOR stationed in Kosovo.

This is part of the agreements reached after the NATO air strikes in 1999, which led to the complete withdrawal of the Serbian security forces and administration from Kosovo.