Explosion hits Kosovo parliament amid border deal tensions

Kosovo’s parliament was hit with a blast from an explosive device late on Thursday, causing damage to the building but no injuries, according to police.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A police officer lifts yellow tape used to seal off the area after unknown assailants struck Kosovo’s Parliament with an explosive device late on Thursday, causing damage but no injuries, in the country's capital Pristina early on Friday, Aug 5, 2016.

Updated Aug 8, 2016

An explosive device was fired at Kosovo’s parliament building late on Thursday August 4, policemen who were on the scene said, adding that damage was caused to the building but that there were no casualties.

The police said the device that hit the building was fired from a distance.

Kosovo media reported that two motorcyclists fired a rocket propelled grenade as they drove by the parliament building. Police did not confirm the media reports.

The parliament is situated next to the government building on a busy street in the centre of Pristina.

Following the explosion, the area around the parliament was sealed off by a special police unit, according to a Reuters witness.

Tensions have been rising among Kosovo’s political parties in the past 10 months.

Opposition MPs released tear gas inside the parliament many times in a stand against an EU-brokered accord with Serbia giving more autonomy to municipalities that have majority Serb populations.

During the same period, opposition supporters clashed with the police many times.

Debate over the border deal comes amid new leaked telephone conversations which allegedly show how top officials of the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, influenced appointments to top positions in the public sector.

On Thursday morning, the Kosovo government requested that the parliament approve a border agreement with Montenegro, which has been opposed by opposition parties who argue that this deal will give away approximately 8,000 hectares of Kosovan land.

The border is a mountainous region, up to about 2,000 metres above sea level, and is used by local shepherds from western Kosovo in the summer for its fertile pastures.

Kosovo's government adopted the controversial draft law on the border demarcation with Montenegro, but the law will not be implemented until two-thirds of MPs support it in parliament.

Kosovo-Montenegro borders according to the Montenegrin Demarcation Deal.

A major opposition party attempted to call a protest against the border deal in front of the parliament early on Thursday to try to stop MPs from voting on the deal. However, they left after realising that parliament would not vote on the law that day.

Kosovo adopted the border deal with Montenegro as a precondition for the country's citizens to travel in the EU's visa-free Schengen Zone. Other countries within the Balkan region were granted this right back in 2010. These countries include Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, however, the country is still not recognised by Belgrade as a country.

Kosovo signed a trade and political pact with the EU but is still not recognised by five member states: Spain, Romania, Cyprus, Slovakia and Greece.

TRTWorld and agencies