The ICG changed the report that implicated KFOR in negotiations for the withdrawal of the terrorist group from Banjska

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The International Crisis Group (ICG), in a recently published report, stated that KFOR officials had negotiated the withdrawal of the Serbian paramilitary group from Banjska—a claim that KFOR denied.

However, several media outlets fell into the trap set by this organization and reported the findings of the report, which later amended the section implicating KFOR. Some of these media outlets published articles with headlines such as: “KFOR Negotiated the Withdrawal of Paramilitaries from Banjska”, “What does the ICG report say about the September 24th attack?”. This claim was shared by news portals like, and others.

Mark Lancaster, a rapporteur in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, included sections of the International Crisis Group’s report in his draft report presented on May 25 during the NATO Assembly’s spring session in Sofia. In point 51 of the draft raport, it was claimed that KFOR had negotiated the withdrawal of members of the Serbian paramilitary group in Banjska, which resulted in the death of Kosovo Police Sergeant Afrim Bunjaku.

“After a short period of de-escalation over the summer, in September 2023, about 30 gunmen clashed with police in Banjska in northern Kosovo and barricaded themselves inside a Serbian orthodox monastery, resulting in a siege that killed one police officer and the three attackers. KFOR officials negotiated the withdrawal of the rest of the group into the surrounding forests, into which they disappeared. Kosovo authorities believe that potentially hundreds more fighters were hiding in the forests between Banjska and the Serbian border and they discovered a large cache of weapons capable of inflicting significant damage and casualties – this included anti-tank rocket launchers, mortars and grenade launchers, anti-tank mines and 24 vehicles (one armoured).” was written in the initial draft of the report presented to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Following the publication of this report, KFOR responded by calling the claim that they had negotiated the withdrawal of the Serbian group from Banjska incorrect.

“This is incorrect. At no point was KFOR involved in the alleged negotiations. After being called upon to reinforce its presence, KFOR closely coordinated with the Kosovo Police and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) to restore security in the area. The violence in Banjska followed an attack on KFOR peacekeepers in May 2023, which resulted in 93 KFOR personnel being injured, some of them seriously,” KFOR stated.

Photo: ICG Report

Following KFOR’s response, the International Crisis Group amended the document, completely removing the section stating that KFOR had negotiated the withdrawal of the Serbian group from Banjska. After this revision, the ICG wrote, “The group eventually withdrew into the surrounding woods leaving their heavy weapons behind” without mentioning KFOR.

At the end of the document, the ICG clarified that the text was updated on May 30, 2024.

“The original version wrongly stated that KFOR personnel negotiated the Serbian armed group’s withdrawal from the standoff at Banjska” it is said in the clarification.

Photo: ICG Report

Such situations highlight the importance of media verification and the caution that organizations must exercise in preparing and publishing reports.

On September 24, 2023, a group of around 30 uniformed individuals attacked members of the Kosovo Police in the village of Banjska in northern Kosovo, resulting in the death of one Kosovo Police officer and the injury of another. Although misinformation circulated regarding the number of attackers killed, this was refuted by the Kosovo Police. The police confirmed that three attackers were killed.

*This article is published as part of the Western Balkans Regional Initiative against disinformation. “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: exposing malign influences through watchdog journalism.”