Prepared by: Ridona Berisha
On September 24th, 2023, in reference to the tensions in northern Kosovo, a group of around 30 uniformed individuals attacked members of the Kosovo Police on Sunday in the village of Banjskë in northern Kosovo.
Several Albanian-language news portals have disseminated misinformation regarding the number of slain attackers, publishing figures ranging from six, eight, or up to 15 members of the attacking group in northern Kosovo.
Initially, the media published the news with the headline “The number of killed terrorists reaches six,” implying that the number of casualties in the Banjskë Monastery incident had reached six. This circulated in outlets such as Kosovo Press, Dosja, and Top-Channel.tv.
Subsequently, there were reports claiming that the number of casualties had risen to seven or eight. The news outlets that spread this information include the Albanian Telegraphic Agency, Pamfleti, Panorama, Gazeta Papirus, Sinjali, and Gazeta Dita.
Furthermore, at 16:23, as tensions continued in northern Kosovo, Facebook pages such as Portal Alt and Gazeta Aktuale published an article with the title “Major Defeat for Serbia. So far, up to 15 terrorists killed by the Kosovo Police!” However, they did not include any official information or quotes from the Kosovo Police to support their claim.
However, this false information was later refuted by the Kosovo Police, who, in their latest media statement, declared that only three attackers were killed, while two others were arrested.
“In response to the tense situation and the circumstances created by continuous terrorist attacks, police officers, in self-defense, were forced to use firearms, resulting in the deaths of three attackers and the arrest of two others. Additionally, four suspected individuals who were found in illegal possession of radio devices have been arrested and are suspected of being associated with a terrorist group,” the police statement reads.
Additionally, in this statement, the Kosovo Police also revealed that during the press conference held on September 25, 2023, they presented confiscated evidence, various types of vehicles, including armored ones, hundreds of different types and calibers of weapons, uniforms, and logistical equipment, including heavy-caliber military weapons such as grenades and mortars, which were seized from the attackers.
*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.