On April 8, an explosion occurred in the Three Towers area of north Mitrovica. It killed a Kosovo Albanian and injured family members (who survived). Police reported that while they had no suspects or motive, the explosion appeared to have been the result of plastic explosive attached to the ground floor window of the victim's apartment. As of now, the police have not released any details of the event, arrested anyone or assigned any motive or blame.
Nevertheless, Pristina has labelled the event an act of "terrorism" and accused Serbs and Serbia of being behind it, some Kosovo Albanians beat up an elderly Kosovo Serb, the Kosovo Albanian Self-Determination political party called for a state of emergency in the north, Kosovo Albanian police from the south tried to assume a provocative presence on the north shore near Three Towers, the mayor of south Mitrovica visited a mixed area in the north to encourage the Kosovo Albanians living in the north to take “all” measures to defend themselves, Kosovo Albanian men armed with automatic weapons were seen on local TV on guard to “protect” the mixed areas of north Mitrovica where Albanians also live, and the Kosovo deputy prime minister announced an impending “operation” for the north by Kosovo special police. Reportedly a special police unit (ROSU) was seen moving into the north on April 12. In social media, in the press and on the streets, Kosovo Albanians have been loud in calling for action to bring “rule of law” to the north while also criticizing EULEX for not doing enough. Their common assumption is that Serbs were behind the explosion.
On the Kosovo Serb side there is a widespread view that the explosion was something between Albanians, perhaps criminal or political. They see no logic in Serbs attacking Albanians in the circumstances under which they live. Kosovo Serb leaders told EULEX and KFOR on April 11 that the events in Mitrovica have severely impacted security in the north and they called for a quick investigation into the bombing to clarify the picture. They noted too how it was strange that a device said to have exploded from outside the apartment sent glass out to the street when such an explosion would do the opposite. They cited supposed comments by a family member of the deceased suggesting he was making an explosive device in the apartment when it went off. Others have said they heard from investigators that the evidence inside the apartment does point to an explosion within rather than from without.
The northern Kosovo Serbs see in the quick Albanian reaction – assigning blame, calling for action and arming in the north – a possible prelude to the events of March 2004. Then Albanians went on an ethnic-cleansing rampage in the south after reports that Serbs had chased three Albanian boys into a river where they drowned. The charge has never been substantiated and the incident may well have been an accident (as was a similar drowning in 2005).
I certainly do not know what happened on April 8 and who was responsible. But surely by now, EULEX must have sufficient forensic evidence to settle some issues concerning the explosion, most basically whether it came from outside or was caused by something that happened inside the apartment. If it was the later, they should say and spike any effort by Pristina to utilize the event to justify provocative actions in the north. If the explosion was caused by something from the outside, then it should lead to a universal effort – including by the Kosovo Serbs – to identify who did it and ensure capture and punishment. The individual responsible for the explosion was up to no good and should be rapidly identified to ensure the event does not become cause for further conflict between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians.
Meanwhile, KFOR and EULEX must ensure they have sufficient forces in the sensitive areas along the Ibar to prevent provocations by anyone, including the Pristina authorities and their police.