Conflict at Banjska Monastery: A Testimony of Fear and Faith
Witnesses Recall the Terrifying Hours
Worshippers from Novi Sad who found themselves in the Banjska Monastery in Kosovo during a violent conflict have shared their experiences, painting a picture of a day fraught with fear and uncertainty. The majority of the worshippers have shown reluctance to engage with the media, stating that the clergy responsible for organizing the trip should provide the details of the incident.
An anonymous traveler recounted the fear that pervaded the group during the conflict, stating that aside from the palpable fear, there were no other inconveniences. The group was treated with care and the individual expressed relief at being back home.
Another Novi Sad resident, whose family was part of the pilgrimage, detailed the tense hours when armed men entered the monastery and established their presence in the lodging area. The worshippers were frightened, fearing the possibility of being taken hostage or becoming casualties in the crossfire. This tense situation lasted from noon until about 6 or 7 PM when the armed men finally left the monastery.
Robbery and Inaction
According to the resident, several travelers were robbed by the armed men who did not engage in any communication with the worshippers. In a surprising turn of events, the Kosovo Force (KFOR) arrived to identify individuals but inexplicably ignored the armed group still present. The resident remained in contact with his son, who was also at the monastery, throughout the ordeal. After the identification process, they stayed in the dining room until Monday, sitting on benches, unable to sleep until their return journey to Novi Sad was organized.
A Journey of Faith Interrupted
Archpriest Brane Milovac, who led this group of worshippers, shared that they had planned this journey to visit King Milutin’s endowment and other holy sites in Kosovo. The plan was to stay overnight in Banjska, but the visit was extended due to the conflict. The group, which visits Kosovo and Metohija several times a year, found themselves in a war zone instead of on a peaceful pilgrimage.
Milovac described the surreal nature of the Sunday prayer, expressing how he laid down in peace and woke up in a war. Despite the surrounding conflict, he emphasized that the primary aim was to protect the pilgrims and believers who had accompanied them. Amidst the fear and uncertainty, the worshippers tried to comfort and support each other.
Two drivers from Dunavprevoz in Backa Palanka, who were part of the journey, have briefly stated that they were unharmed during the conflict.
The conflict at Banjska Monastery serves as a stark reminder of the fragile peace in areas with historical disputes and tensions. The experiences of the worshippers from Novi Sad underscore the human cost of such conflicts, revealing a day of fear, uncertainty, and steadfast faith.
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