In Kosovo, a Kosovar policeman was shot dead on Sunday morning, reportedly by a group of 30 armed men at the Banjska monastery in Mitrovica. The event, which has not yet been clarified, became the trigger for the spread of narratives that promote destabilization, but also incorrect information on the network, including the identity of the victims in the ranks of the aggressors.
The Kosovo Police officially announced that at 2:34 on September 24, a roadblock was observed at the entrance to the village of Banjské, where the Zveçan police order unit sent three police patrols which were attacked with weapons by the people who had set up the blockade.
Due to the attack, a policeman of the Kosovo Blue Forces, Afrim Bunjaku, was killed and two others were injured. From that moment, the Kosovo police surrounded the monastery and engaged in arresting the persons trapped there.
At 14:22, the Kosovo police announced that one of the aggressors was killed, and about 3 hours later two other aggressors were announced as killed by the Kosovo Police in the official announcement . The blue uniforms managed to enter the monastery in the evening hours of Sunday.
“ So far, according to information from the field, three attackers have been killed, two attackers and four suspects have been arrested who were found in illegal possession of radio communications, and who are suspected of being related to a terrorist group. ” – announcement of the Kosovo Police .
A few hours after the publication of the first information on the armed clash in the north of Mitrovica, Kosovo and Serbia blamed each other for the attack.
“We condemn this criminal and terrorist attack. Organized crime with political, financial and logistical support from official Belgrade is attacking our country.” – wrote the prime minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, at 7:20 a.m. on the Facebook social network.
Serbian President Alexandar Vucic, on the other hand , called the situation a “rebellion of the Serbs in Kosovo against the terror of Albin Kurti” and denied the connection of the Serbian state with the situation.
“Serbs, not from central Serbia, but from Kosovo and Metohia, rebelled, not wanting to suffer the terror of Kurt.” , quotes the Serbian media Vijesti .
Unethical and unverified reporting
Around midday on Sunday, online and traditional media began circulating a photo of a murdered person, announcing him as one of the attackers at the Banjska monastery. The media in Kosovo and Albania distributed without any ethical and moral filter the image of a murdered and bloodied man, often without censoring the photo, violating every rule of journalism.
It didn’t take long and the media started distributing photos of the people who they believe are the attackers killed by the Kosovo police.
The first among them was Gazeta Metro, which published an article announcing that “ Radomir Pocuca, former journalist and former Serbian special police officer and convicted by the Serbian state for illegal participation in the war in Ukraine, is one of the terrorist group that is under siege in the monastery in Banjska”.
The article did not report the source of the information provided on Radomir Pocuca, the alleged attacker killed in the Banjska monastery. Regarding this information, Faktoje contacted the media office in question to get to know the source of the information, but we are still waiting for an answer.
“Flood” of disinformation
The news of the newspaper Metro was redistributed by the former prime minister Sali Berisha on the social network Facebook, where he cited the aforementioned article as a source, accompanied by two images.
The information and the two photographs published by Berisha were widely reproduced by the Albanian media, without any further verification.
To the naked eye, the two people in the photos distributed in the media as Radomir Pocuca, do not look much like each other. So Faktoje did a web search through photos and discovered that the person in the photo on the left is actually called Pavle Bihali , leader of the far-right Movement in Serbia called Leviathan , and not Radomir Pocuca (the person on the right), as was widely reported in the media.
An in-depth search on the network on Pavle Bihali also reveals a video shared on the channel of his page Levijatan – bez censorship on Telegram , where Bihali appears denying the news of his murder.
*Video on Telegram of Pavle Bihal published on September 25
He appears saying that he is alive and showing a video of the statement of President Aleksandar Vucic, who in an interview with Serbian media said that the news about the murder of Bihali and Radomir are untrue.
At the same time, a video was shared on social networks where a journalist from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Avdo Avdic from Istraga.ba media is shown talking on the phone with someone he refers to as Radomir Pocuca, whom he asks if he is alive.
Avdo Avdić: Hello
Person on the phone: Hello
Avdo Avdić: I want to talk to Radomir Počuča
Person on the phone: Present, speaking
Avdo Avdić: Then that means you’re not dead… I’m a journalist from Sarajevo, Avdo Avdić…
Person on the phone: Respekt (polite expression in Serbian)
Avdo Avdić: … The media in Kosovo are saying that you have been killed, so I wanted to check that.
Person on the phone: Well, as they say, it’s just their wish. They wish! Thanks to God I am alive and healthy, still in Belgrade, but who knows how the situation will develop in the end.
Avdo Avdić: Okay, I wanted to check that, thank you very much.
Person on the phone: All the best
Avdo Avdić: Goodbye
Person on the phone: Goodbye
The authenticity of the two incriminating videos shared remains to be confirmed. On the other hand, the source of the information about the two names rumored to have been killed by the Kosovo Police remains unknown and therefore impossible to verify.
The statement of the Serbian President denying the information about the murder of Pavle Bihal and Radomir Pocucas was as widely reflected in the media as the initial news about the “identification” of the murdered attackers.
In fact, the same media that spread the news about the identity of Radomir Pocucas, now announces the news published by the Serbian media Danas as real information.
“ The identity of the three murdered Serbs, who died for their participation in the attack on the Kosovo police and the killing of a Kosovo policeman yesterday in the village of Banjska in the north of Kosovo, has been announced .” – writes Gazeta Metro in the article.
The narrative articulated by Vucic that the attackers are Kosovo Serbs who are rebelling against Albin Kurti, was supported by the media in Serbia who began to announce another identity for the three killed in the north of Mitrovica by the Kosovo Police.
According to Serbian media, the killed persons have been identified as I.M and B.M from Leposaviçi, as well as S.N from Zveçani. N1info.rs announced that it had unofficially learned the identity of the three murdered persons.
The official version of the event
The Kosovo Police and the Minister of the Interior announced in a statement to the media that the work to identify the murdered persons is ongoing and that this information will be shared with the public at a later time.
“ We are working on the identity of the suspicious persons. Our investigation teams and analysts are doing extremely hard work identifying the people involved in the incident. Normally we cannot share these with the public at this moment, but a large number of them have been identified.” – declared the Kosovo Police.
At no time did the Kosovo Police provide information on the three killed persons regarding their identity, which proves that the information circulating in the media is at best unconfirmed officially and at worst completely untrue.
On September 26, 2023 website newsbomb.net corrected its article after the news was verified by Faktoje. The reported news has had its original rating changed on Facebook.