The President of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Milorad Dodik, said his entity may withdraw from Bosnia's state-level security apparatus following an attack on a police station in the east of the country.
“Republika Srpska was shot at and we have right to defend ourselves, and we will defend ourselves,” Dodik said.
He added that Bosnian Serb police structures were being given three days to assess the security situation and the capacity of the state agencies to protect the entity from terrorism.
Dodik’s statement followed an emergency session of the Republika Srpska government on Tuesday, dedicated to the deadly attack of an Islamist militant on a police station in the eastern town of Zvornik.
The attacker - who shouted the Islamist slogan "God is Great" - killed a policeman before being shot dead himself. Two police were injured in the shootout on Monday evening.
Talking to journalists after the emergency government session, Dodik condemned the work of the state intelligence agencies, which he blamed for failing to prevent the incident.
Bosnia's Security Minister, Dragan Mektic, last Friday said the state Intelligence and Security Agency, OSA, had indications of a possible terrorist threat to Bosnia but did not have any details about when and where it could happen.
On Tuesday, Bosnia’s State Investigation and Protection Agency, SIPA, in cooperation with the Republika Srpska entity police, raided two locations in eastern Bosnia and arrested one person believed to be involved in the attack.
Dodik dismissed Mektic’s claims and demanded that the OSA reveal exactly what kind of information it had. “We do not need that kind of intelligence organization,” Dodik said.
Bosnia's Council of Ministers, state-level government, holds an urgent session on Tuesday on the Zvornik attack which it called a terrorist act.
Dragan Mektic, the Security Minister, left the session to hold a press conference where he described the events in Zvornik and confirmed the importance of cooperation of all institutions and security agencies in fighting terrorism.
“It is very important for citizens to remain calm, that there were no violent activities, we are all aware of the terroristic threat to Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said. “We have certain violent, radical and terroristic ideologies,” he argued adding that the Coucil of Ministers was urging all institutions to better coordinate themselves.
Referring to Dodik's threat, Mektic said current events must not be used to score political points.
“Our citizens are in danger. It's no problem to make a new agency, the problem is in networking within the system. This is political manipulation,” he said.
He repeated that intelligence data about a possible terrorist attack were sent to all government bodies last week but that it could not have been determined where and when it would it take place.
The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina urged all police and judicial institutions to cooperate and coordinate their work in order to determine all facts and motives of the attack.
“Attacks like these represent a threat to security, constitutional order and the international image of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens,” the statement said calling for peace among the citizens so that there are no inter-ethnic or inter-religious provocations, incidents or tensions.
State-level security agencies were established in Bosnia as a part of a difficult reform of the police and security sector in the divided country.
A senior international official told Balkan Insight that eventual withdrawal of the Republika Srpska from state security structures and establishment of parallel agencies would mark a concrete step towards the effective dissolution of Bosnia.
The same official expressed concerns that Dodik may be misusing the attack on the police station to move ahead with his announced separatist agenda, which he has reiterated since being re-elected leader of the strongest Bosnian Serb party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, on Saturday.
Zvornik was the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the 1992-5 war in Bosnia. A formerly majority Bosniak [Muslim] city, it was radically ethnically cleansed by Bosnian Serb forces. About 4,000 people were reportedly killed in organised mass expulsions.