International press on the UN police shooting incident in Mitrovica 

 

3 U.N. Police Die in Kosovo Jail Shootout

By NEBOJSA MARKOVIC

 

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) A Jordanian policeman opened fire on a group of international U.N. police in Kosovo on Saturday, killing two Americans before he was killed when officers returned fire. Ten American officers and an Austrian were wounded.

 

The shootout erupted when a group correctional officers 21 Americans, two Turks and an Austrian were leaving the detention center after a day of training. They came under fire from at least one of a group of Jordanians on guard at the prison, said Neeraj Singh, a U.N. spokesman.

 

The officers shot back in a gun battle that lasted about 10 minutes. It was not immediately clear what prompted the Jordanian to shoot.

 

``As far as we know, there was no communication between the officer who fired and the group of victims,'' Singh said, adding that investigators looking into the incident were questioning four Jordanian officers.

 

The Jordanian government expressed regret for the incident in a statement and said it also was investigating the shooting, Jordan's official Petra agency reported. The statement identified the Jordanian officer as Ahmed Mustafa Ibrahim Ali.

 

U.N. and local police officers sealed off the yard of the detention center, took pictures and marked the bullet cartridges with numbers. The body of a police officer, covered with what looked like a dark blue jacket, lay for hours in the yard of the prison compound.

 

One witness, a 50-year-old woman who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she heard the shooting, ran to her balcony overlooking the prison yard and saw one officer shooting and another hiding.

 

Another witness who also gave only his age, 31, said he was at a nearby park when he heard the shooting and later heard American officers yelling, ``Drop the gun! Drop the gun!''

 

``It is absolutely too early to draw any conclusions with regard to what happened there,'' the head of the U.N. police, Stefan Feller, told Associated Press Television News after visiting the site. He called the shootout a ``terrible incident.''

 

Milan Ivanovic, a doctor at the hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica, told AP that five American officers and one Austrian officer were being treated. It was not immediately clear where the other wounded were being treated, or what their nationalities were.

 

``Their wounds are predominantly in the chest and abdomen,'' Ivanovic said. ``They were caused by firearms and possibly explosive devices.''

 

Kosovska Mitrovica has long been the scene of violence between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, including riots that broke out a month ago, killing 19 and injuring 900.

Ethnic Albanians live on the southern side of the Ibar River in the divided city, and Serbs live in the north. Kosovska Mitrovica is located 25 miles from the provincial capital, Pristina.

 

Kosovo became a U.N. protectorate in 1999, after NATO launched a 78-day air war to stop Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic from cracking down on ethnic Albanians seeking independence.

 

There are some 3,500 U.N. police officers serving in Kosovo alongside a 6,000-strong local force.

 

The top U.N. official in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, seemed stunned at the shooting incident, which came as the mission is still grappling with last month's violence.

``I am deeply shocked and dismayed at the unfortunate death of dedicated professionals who have come such a great distance to help Kosovo on its road to future,'' he said.

 

 

Topeka woman wounded in Kosovo prison shootout

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A former Topeka City Council member was among the wounded when a Jordanian police officer opened fire
Saturday on a group of United Nations police officers at a prison in Kosovo, her husband said.

Beth Mechler was in a hospital intensive care unit recovering from a bullet wound to her femoral artery involving the groin, according to her husband, Topeka police Lt. Randy Listrom.

 

Mechler, 44, and other U.N. officers were among a group of correctional officers including 21 Americans, two Turks and an Austrian who were leaving their first day of an assignment at a Kosovo prison when the police officer opened fire on them.

Two Americans were killed before the shooter was killed by officers returning fire. Ten American officers and an Austrian were wounded in Kosovska Mitrovica, Serbia-Montenegro.

 

It wasn't immediately clear what prompted the shooting, which lasted about 10 minutes.

 

Listrom said his wife was riding in the same car as the two slain Americans.

Listrom said he had spoken to his wife by phone on Saturday. He was not sure if he would travel to Kosovo to be with her.

 

Mechler worked for Dyncorp, a private company that trains police, corrections and judicial officers who work in countries that include Kosovo and Iraq.

 

Mechler was a Topeka City Council member from 1991 to 1995 and was taking a one-year leave of absence from her job with the corrections department. She had worked as a special enforcement officer who focused on finding parole violators, Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Miskell said.

 

She went to help people in Kosovo because she cares, her husband said in a written statement.

``How ironic that at the conclusion of her first day of international service she is attacked by those she considered a part of the effort,'' Listrom said Saturday.

Listrom said his wife was being well-treated at the hospital, though she had been through an emotional time.

 

``She watched as friends died needlessly, and that may be an image not forgotten,'' he said.

 

Listrom said he and his wife believed that people who are lucky enough to live in the United States should help less-fortunate countries.

 

Within a day of moving into her house in Kosovo, Listrom said, Mechler arranged for the neighborhood children to help her with a neighborhood trash pickup.

 

``The attackers may never know that their 'political' attack may have taken away an opportunity for youth in Kosovo to know what real Americans are about and that neighborhood trash pickup may never occur,'' he said.

 

 

Injured UN police officer critical after Kosovo shootout

 

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Serbia-Montenegro, April 18 (AFP) - An American woman who was among six UN police officers hospitalised after being injured in a shootout between officers in northern Kosovo is in critical condition, a hospital official said Sunday.

 

"An American woman who was among the injured is in a critical state. The others are stable this morning," Milan Ivanovic, deputy director of the hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica, told AFP.

 

Three UN police officers -- two female American officers and a Jordanian -- were killed in Kosovo in the shootout on Saturday apparently sparked by a quarrel over the conflict in Iraq, UN officials and sources said.

 

Eleven other officers were injured in the mid-afternoon clash, a UN police spokesman said.

 

All were stationed at a prison in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica.

 

More than 3,000 international police serve as part of the UN mission in the UN-administered province and are responsible for law and order.

 

Since 1999 the Serb province has been administered by the United Nations with the presence of NATO-led peacekeepers (KFOR).

 

KFOR soldiers came to the hospital early on Sunday to ask for one of the injured police officers to be transferred to Austria, Ivanovic said.

 

  

 

UN police die in Kosovo shooting

 

Three UN police officers have died after a gunfight with their colleagues in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica, UN officials say.

 

BBC NEWS

 

The clash killed two Americans and one Jordanian and injured another 11 officers, most of them American.

 

Investigations are under way into what provoked the officers to turn their guns on each other.

 

Reports suggest the gunfight was triggered by an argument between the Americans and the Jordanian.

 

The UN uses more than 3,000 international police to maintain order between Kosovo's Serbs and Albanians.

 

But the UN has confirmed no Serbs or Albanians were involved in the latest shoot-out, which took place in the compound of a prison in Mitrovica.

 

'Drop the gun!'

One police force member said the Americans were leaving the prison in a bus, when the Jordanian officer fire opened fire on them.

 

An eyewitness quoted by the Associated Press news agency said he heard gunshots followed by the cries of American officers yelling, "Drop the gun! Drop the gun!"

 

The head of the UN's mission in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, said he was "dismayed at the unfortunate death of dedicated professionals who have come such a great distance to help Kosovo on its road to the future".

 

The BBC's Nick Hawton in Pristina says the incident could put fresh pressure on the UN, which has also been accused of falling behind in its plan for political reform in the province.

 

The UN took charge of the Serbian province of Kosovo after a brief air war, in which Nato forces aimed to push back Serbian troops accused of war crimes against the ethnic Albanians.

 

The divided town of Mitrovica was the scene of fierce fighting between the two ethnic groups in March, which left at least 31 dead.

 

 

Jordanian government expresses regrets over Kosovo shooting

 

AMMAN, April 18 (AFP) - The Jordanian government voiced "regrets" early Sunday following a shootout in Kosovo provoked by a Jordanian UN policeman that left him and two Americans dead, spokeswoman Asma Khodr said.

 

Khodr did not give a reason for the shooting although UN officials in Kosovo linked it to the situation in occupied Iraq.

 

"The Jordanian government regrets this incident," Khodr said in a statement carried by the official Jordanian news agency Petra.

 

Citing "initial reports" from Kosovo, Khodr said that Jordanian UN policeman Ahmad Mustafa Ibrahim opened fire indiscriminately on a number of people Saturday, "hitting an Austrian and eight Americans".

 

"Two of the Americans died," Khodr said, adding that Ibrahim was also shot dead.

A US official in the UN police said the shooting was triggered by a quarrel over the conflict in Iraq.

 

"Everything started when the Middle Eastern guys told the American police officers that the US has occupied Iraq like every other country. The Americans were pissed off by these accusations.

 

"Suddenly one Jordanian started shooting," he said.

 

The incident occurred at a prison in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica, said UN police spokesman Neeraj Singh, who confirmed the deaths of the Jordanian and two Americans and said that 11 other officers were wounded in the shooting.

 

More than 3,000 international police serve as part of the UN mission (UNMIK) in the province, and are responsible for maintaining law and order.

 

UNMIK head Harri Holkeri expressed shock over the killings.

 

"I am deeply shocked and dismayed at the unfortunate death of dedicated professionals who have come such a great distance to help Kosovo on its road to the future," Holkeri said in a statement sent to AFP.

 

 

Jordan deplores killing by Jordanian policeman in Kosovo

 

Amman (dpa)- The Jordanian government on Sunday deplored the killing of two U.S. officers by a Jordanian policeman working with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Kosovo on Saturday.

 

All three men had been working as prison guards for the U.N. mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and died in a shootout following a verbal dispute over the Iraq crisis, while 11 others were wounded.

 

``The Jordanian government regrets the incident and is following up investigations to know what happened exactly,'' Minister of State and government spokesperson Asma Khader was quoted as saying by the official news agency, Petra.

 

``According to preliminary information, Jordanian policeman Ahmed Mustafa Ibrahim opened fire at random, killing two Americans and wounding six others,'' Khader said.

 

``Ibrahim was fired at instantly and killed,'' she added. Jordan has thousands of policemen and soldiers working with the U.N. peacekeeping force in Kosovo and other troubled areas of the world.

 

 

3 Die in Shootout Between U.N. Police in Kosovo

 

By NICHOLAS WOOD – New York Times

LJUBJLANA, Slovenia, April 17 — Two American women working as prison guards with the United Nations in Kosovo were killed Saturday and 10 other Americans and an Austrian working as prison officers were wounded when a Jordanian, also with the United Nations, opened fire on them, officials said. The attacker was shot and killed.

The attack took place in a prison in the city of Mitrovica, in the north of the province.

 

United Nations officials said the motive for the shooting was not immediately clear.

Some of the wounded were in serious condition, hospital officials said.

 

The American dead and wounded were among a group of 21 United States prison officers who had arrived in Kosovo on April 7, a United Nations police spokesman said, and they had just completed an induction course at the jail, which is usually used as a pretrial detention center for ordinary crimes.

 

"They were leaving the detention center in three vehicles after a routine training day, when they came under fire," said Neeraj Singh, a spokesman for the United Nations police service in Kosovo.

 

He said that at least one Jordanian officer began shooting and that the Americans returned fire, killing him.

 

"There was no communication between the two groups before the shooting started," Mr. Singh said, dismissing suggestions in the local news media that fighting had erupted as the result of an argument.

 

Joe Napolitano, the commander of a United Nations police station next to the jail, said the Jordanian had shot at the American group for some time before he was killed.

 

"He just opened fire on them," Mr. Napolitano said in a telephone interview. "It lasted about 10 minutes."

 

United Nations peacekeepers and police officers have been working in Kosovo since 1999, after NATO's 78-day bombing campaign to stop forces backed by the former Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, from driving ethnic Albanians from the province. About 3,500 United Nations police officers are now in Kosovo.

Jordan has a company of around 120 antiriot officers in the region. Their duties including guarding the exterior of the prison; they did not serve as guards inside. The United States has had a lead role in prison administration and staffing in the province.

 

A statement issued by United Nations mission in Kosovo confirmed the deaths. "As a result of the shooting, three international officers died, including two from the United States and one from Jordan," the statement read. "Eleven other international officers received gunshot wounds and are currently undergoing medical treatment."

 

Dr. Milan Ivanovic, the director of a hospital in northern Mitrovica where seven of the officers were being treated, said four had suffered serious injuries. "One American woman is in a critical condition," Dr. Ivanovic said in a telephone interview, adding that one of the two American dead had survived until after arriving the hospital.

 

It is not the first time a Jordanian policeman has opened fire on fellow officers. Early last year in Pristina, a Jordanian officer opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle after an argument, killing another officer and then shooting himself.

 

Residents contacted by telephone in northern Mitrovica, where the prison is based, said the gunfire could be heard across the city.

 

It was another blow for the ethnically divided city, which is still recovering from a recent wave of ethnic unrest in which 19 people were killed and more than 800 injured.

 

The violence began in Mitrovica and spread across the region as ethnic Albanian mobs attacked the province's minority Serb community. More than 4,000 people were displaced from their homes as a result, and more than 500 homes destroyed or damaged, according to United Nations figures.

 

Harri Holkeri, the top official with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, or Unmik, expressed shock over the shooting.

 

"I am deeply shocked and dismayed at the unfortunate death of dedicated professionals who have come such a great distance to help Kosovo on its road to the future," Mr. Holkeri said in a statement released by the United Nations officials.

 

"I convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased, to their Unmik police contingents, and their home countries' government. I wish speedy recovery to the injured officers."

 

Three UN police die in shootout at Kosovo jail

 

By Nebojsa Markovic – The independent

 

A shootout at a prison in northern Kosovo killed three international police officers, including two American women, and wounded 11 others, a UN spokesman said.

Witnesses and international sources in the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica said that the UN police officers had engaged in a shootout that lasted about 10 minutes. One source suggested that the shooting began in an argument over US forces occupying Iraq. Four Jordanian police officers were arrested in connection with the incident, a Nato source told AP on condition of anonymity.

 

"It is too early to draw any conclusions with regard to what happened there," the head of the UN police, Stefan Feller, told Associated Press Television News minutes after visiting the prison shooting site. Among those killed is a member of the prison's management staff and a member of a Jordanian special police unit.

 

The body of a police officer, covered with a jacket, lay for hours in the yard of the prison compound where the shooting occurred. Police officers sealed off the area.

UN spokesman Neeraj Singh said: "Police are currently investigating the circumstances of the incident."

 

Milan Ivanovic, a doctor in the hospital in the Serb-held part of Kosovska Mitrovica, told AP that five American officers and one Austrian officer were being treated at his hospital. It was not clear where the other officers were being treated.

 

 

UNMIK police dead after political quarrel (B92)

 

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Saturday -- Three UN police officers -- two Americans and a Jordanian -- were killed Saturday in northern Kosovo and 11 others were injured after a quarrel between UN officers led to an exchange of gunfire, UN and hospital sources said. 

UN police spokesman Neeraj Singh said the UN officers were all stationed at a prison in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica

Sources close to the UN mission said the incident was the result of a dispute between Middle Eastern and United States officers serving in the same international police force. 

"A shooting incident involving international police officers took place in the detention centre in Kosovska Mitrovica," said Singh in Pristina, the capital of the UN-run Serbian province. 

"Three international officers, two from the United States and one from Jordan, have died and another 11 have been injured. Some are in serious condition," he told AFP. 

Hospital officials in the town, the scene of deadly ethnic violence last month between Kosovo's Serb and ethnic Albanian populations, earlier gave a toll of one US woman dead and six other officers injured in the shooting. 

"Seven victims of the shooting, UN police, arrived at the hospital, six of them were seriously injured," Milan Ivanovic, the deputy director of the hospital in north of the ethnically-divided town said. 

"An American woman died immediately from her wounds, four others are in the operation room," he told reporters. "The injured were hit in the chest or the abdomen, four of them are women and two are men, one an Australian national." 

UN spokesman Singh said an investigation was already under way. 

"Forensics are at the scene and the police investigators are working on the case," he said. 

The incident apparently broke out around 3:00 pm after an argument between members of the UN police from the Middle East and others from the United States, UN sources requesting anonymity said here. 

The Serbian news agency Beta quoted anonymous sources saying that four Jordanian nationals working as UN police officers had been arrested after the incident and were being questioned at UN police headquarters south of Kosovska Mitrovica. 

More than 3,000 international police serve as part of the UN mission in the province, and are responsible for maintaining law and order. 

The UN's top official in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, expressed shock over the incident. 

"I am deeply shocked and dismayed at the unfortunate death of dedicated professionals who have come such a great distance to help Kosovo on its road to the future," Holkeri said in a statement sent to AFP. 

"I convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased, to their UNMIK Police contingents, and their home countries' government. I wish speedy recovery to the injured officers," he said.