After this, Hashim Thaci and the KLA, now transformed into the Kosovo Protection Corps, who were obviously waiting for the right moment to take over the remaining part of Kosovska Mitrovica, set out to attack Serb houses and apartments immediately on the banks of the Ibar but they were stopped by French soldiers from KFOR forces; a confrontation ensued in which several French soldiers were wounded by sniper's bullets and several of the attackers were killed.
The following day the Albanians held demonstrations to which the French responded by setting up barricades on the bridge to prevent the crossing by approximately fifteen thousand people (led there primarily from the region of Drenica) into the Serb part of the city, which would have completed the process of ethnic cleansing of Kosmet.
Then, on Sunday morning, what the Serbs feared and what they had been predicting happened: at the request of the civil administrator of the UN, Bernard Kouchner, KFOR sent reinforcements to Mitrovica, American and German troops, which immediately set out on a rough search of selected objects in both parts of the city, allegedly seeking weapons. In full combat gear, with dogs, they broke into apartments, especially in the Serb part of Mitrovica, and a special target was the Faculty of Technology, as well as the technical secondary school; the Americans broke into these buildings by force, destroying the inventory, the locks, even breaking into cash registers. The city was searched by both the French and the English but according to the claims of witnesses, both they and the Germans behaved very correctly and worked professionally and relatively humanely while the Americans tried to be as aggressive as possible. Even the medical care facility in the Serb part of the city was searched; in it, the mattresses on which babies were sleeping were lifted but no weapons were found.
The conclusion of the whole campaign was essentially "much ado about nothing" because, according to the official statement, in the operation which involved 15 KFOR companies (all together approximately 2,000 soldiers) a total of ten Kalashnikovs, five M-48 rifles, some explosives and ammunition was discovered. If one knows how much weaponry there really is in Kosmet, then this is a ridiculous number; therefore, it is obvious that the campaign had a different goal which the representatives of the Serb government in Mitrovica, both parties in power and in the opposition, claim was the application of psychological pressure calculated to expel the Serbs and ethnic cleansing of the only remaining multiethnic city in Kosovo and Metohija.
The Serbs, determined to protect their city enclave, reacted immediately the next morning in the manner that they have been using for months, defending the bridge on the Ibar: they gathered in great number, unarmed, refusing to allow the Americans to continue the search because of what they had done at the Faculty of Technology. Several hundreds of Serb even succeeded in forcing back the American soldiers across the bridge into the south part of the city, at the same time acting in a friendly manner toward the French.
Then, the next day the Albanians, on Thaci's call, again began to demonstrate even more massively than before. Again, their goal was to cross into the northern part of the city. KFOR soldiers were on the bridge in five cordons reinforced with barbed wire and cut off by tanks but, despite this, the Albanians did not give up and in many attempts charged the cordons; consequently, the soldiers of the international forces were forced to respond using tear gas, and occasionally batons and rifle butts against the most belligerent attackers.
How do the most responsible people on all sides comment all this? While KFOR claims that similar campaigns will continue, tossing flyers from helicopters in which the population is "requested" to turn in weapons, the Albanian mayor of Kosovska Mitrovica, Bajram Rexhepi accuses KFOR and UNMIK of being the most responsible for the current situation. A special target of accusations is the French battalion (probably because it behaved correctly toward the Serbs and because it has been preventing the onslaught of Albanians into the northern part of the city for months). Rexhepi, however, has distanced himself from the demonstrations. At the same time, multiple sources have confirmed the hypothesis that the KLA in Drenica has again activated and mobilized its forces which were transferred to Kosovska Mitrovica where weapons prepared earlier were waiting for them and that they are just waiting for the right moment to attack the Serbs. This corresponds to the announcements of a "tumultuous spring".
On the other hand, the Serbs are not giving up from their intention of defending their part of Mitrovica and maintaining the division of the city, and this is the position of both the representatives of the Democratic Party of Serbia, which practically organized the resistance and runs the city, as well as of the representatives of the regime, headed by Zoran Andjelkovic Baki, who has relocated his Temporary Executive Council of Kosmet to Mitrovica. Even though they agree on this issue, the differences are many nonetheless, because those who successfully defended the city last summer now hold against the Socialists the fact that they are trying to gain points based on their achievements.
"The ruling parties did not and do not have any representatives among the defenders of the bridge and the northern part of the city; they are way behind the front lines. The high officials of the Socialist Party of Serbia come only as far as Zvecan, where it is safe, and they issue statements there," says the president of the regional board of the Democratic Party of Serbia, Dr. Marko Jaksic, one of the key men of the Serb National Council of Kosovska Mitrovica, who is especially angry at the Radicals. "They are, unfortunately, an especially sad Serb story: they are literally nowhere to be found in Kosmet, as they were the first to leave the region. They were the main source of stories of a 'sell out' and the first who headed the columns of people, some of whom needlessly left their ancient homes. For ten years they were 'patriots' and now they are nowhere to be found. It must be easier for them to write statements on Kosovo from Belgrade than to be here among us and fight," notes Jaksic.
It is hard to predict what will be the outcome of all this in Kosovska Mitrovica in the coming days because the question is to what degree KFOR will exert pressure on both Serbs and Albanians, as well as how long they will show some degree of tolerance. The Albanians have already demonstrated that they intend to fight with KFOR, as well. Since they have not been reprimanded for this, it is probable that more of the same will follow because their goal is well-known: Kosovska Mitrovica must be completely Albanian. At the same time, the Serbs for now are offering only non-violent, passive resistance but they do not want to give up. The behavior of KFOR, especially of the Americans, will probably be critical for the future development of events.