The NATO-led international peacekeeping mission in Kosovo says "criminal groups" have been behind protesters in the north of the country, as warnings of a European war could first ignite there.

The spokesman for the international mission, Colonel Andrea Gallini, told a news conference in the Kosovo capital Pristina on Friday that many of the mission's soldiers were injured by stones, improvised explosives and weapons used during the demonstrations.

"It was clear that people were trying to chant and protest in a peaceful way, but it was also clear that criminal groups were hiding behind them, just to attack the troops."

Galini stated that the situation in northern Kosovo has now calmed down on the security front, stressing the need to hold both sides responsible for these events, because "one of them made a decision without regard to the security level, and the other did not lift a finger in the face of the violence that punctuated the demonstrations."

The violence erupted after the Kosovo authorities appointed ethnic Albanian mayors to the offices of the northern municipalities. Mayors were chosen in an election with only 3.5 percent turnout after Serbs, who make up the region's majority, boycotted the local elections.

Spokesman for the International Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo Colonel Andrea Galliini (Anatolia)

Turkish Forces

The spokesman pointed out that the additional forces sent by Turkey to strengthen the NATO mission have been stationed in Kosovo starting from the fifth of June, and that they are currently integrating with other units.

He said the Turkish special forces battalion, which includes about 500 troops, would be deployed to support measures to contain tensions, and could head north or other locations as needed.

The United States and the European Union are demanding that Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti withdraw the mayors from their posts and withdraw the special police units that helped shape the northern municipalities.

They also demanded new local elections in the north with Serb participation, and for Kosovo to implement a 2013 agreement to create a federation of Serbian municipalities to give the group more autonomy.

The next war

A report by the National Interest website warned that the next European war could begin in Kosovo.

There are marked similarities between the situation in Kosovo and the current conflict in Ukraine, the report said, urging Western policymakers to pay attention.

He said the recent crisis in northern Kosovo reminded the world that "the brutal war in Ukraine is perhaps the biggest threat to European stability right now, but it is by no means the only one."

The political reality in northern Kosovo is similar in many ways to the situation in eastern Ukraine, bearing in mind that Kosovo is a historically disputed territory, according to the report.

Kosovo, where the majority Albanians are Albanian, seceded from Serbia in 1999 and declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade still considers it part of its territory and supports a Serb minority.

NATO has about 4,700 troops in Kosovo and has decided to send an additional <> troops due to escalating violence.