July 4, 2005

KiM-Info Newsletter 04-07-05 

UN and OSCE targeted in Kosovo explosions

Three powerful explosions on Saturday evening rocked, nearly simultaneously, the center of Pristina, provincial capital of Kosovo. The first explosion occured near the HQ of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), but the police reported no injuries. The second blast was outside the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) building and the third near the provincial parliament.

UN and OSCE property and personnel were also targeted last year during the March riots when 19 persons were killed. During the riots inetrnational vehicles, Serbian homes and churches were targeted. The bomb attacks in Pristina sparks fears of renewed violence in the UN administered restive province.


Scenes evoking memories of the last year's March riots

 

Three blasts rock Kosovo capital, sparking fears of fresh unrest

AFP

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro, July 3, 2005 : The capital of Serbia's UN-administered province of Kosovo was rocked by three explosions near international institutions on Saturday, claiming no victims but sparking fears of instability before discussions later this year on the final status of Kosovo.

The bombings, which had not been claimed late Saturday, occurred during a visit by the United Nations secretary general's special envoy Kai Eide.

A first explosion went off outside the UN mission, followed rapidly by two others near the parliament building and the European agency for reconstruction and development in Pristina, as well as a restaurant close to the headquarters of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"There were no victims and no injuries and the police and KFOR (the NATO multilateral force) have sealed off the area and begun an inquiry," police spokesman Refki Morina said.

He refused to speculate on the identity of the bombers or their motives.

A UN vehicle parked outside the UN mission was destroyed by a fire after the blast and two others were damaged.

A witness at the Zora restaurant told AFP he had "not seen anything suspicious" before the explosion.

As helicopters flew overhead, central Pristina was cordoned off to keep passers-by and cars away and local and UN police officers were on patrol.

Eide is in Kosovo to evaluate the setting up by the ethnic Albanian authorities of democratic norms, especially in the field of human rights.

Their application, demanded by the UN, is an indispensable condition for the opening in October of discussions on the final status of Kosovo.

Kosovo, formally a province of Serbia-Montenegro with an ethnic Albanian majority, has been under UN administration since the end of the

1998-1999 war between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian separatists.

NATO deployed the 18,000-man KFOR to maintain security here.

The Albanians, who make up more than 90 percent of the two-million population, want independence, which Belgrade categorically opposes.

Saturday's attacks were "a very disturbing event ... at a very delicate moment for Kosovo," Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi declared. "This is an organised action which will harm Kosovo and this boosts our concern."

Certain groups of ethnic Albanians regarded as extremists have in the past strongly criticised the slowness of international organisations in settling the final status question.

The situation in the province remains very volatile more than a year after violent anti-Serb riots in March 2004 that claimed 19 lives and left some 900 people injured.

UN mission spokesman Remi Dourlot said it was too soon to say whether the explosions were part of a plot to attack international agencies in the Serbian province.

"It's too early to say anything about that. It's not the first time such a thing happens, we had some attacks in March when Haradinaj resigned,"

Dourlot told AFP, referring to former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj.

"At the moment I don't know if we were the target of these attacks."

Haradinaj, former chief of the Albanian guerrillas during the Kosovo war, stepped down to answer accusations of war crimes before the international tribunal in The Hague. Considered a hero by many of his compatriots, his resignation led to fears of possible unrest.

In Mitrovica in the north of Kosovo the recently reopened bridge separating the Serb-majority north of the town from the ethnic Albanian south was closed late Saturday over fears of ethnic tensions flaring. - AFP/de

  
Explosions occured amidst well secured UN and OSCE compounds

Three policemen wounded in Kosovo shooting

By DPA July 2, 2005, 19:00 GMT

Pristina - Unidentified gunman on Friday wounded three Kosovo policemen in a bar near southwestern town of Orahovac, United Nations police said.

The U.N. and local police immediately sealed of the area, but the attacker, armed with an Kalashnikov assault rifle, managed to escape.

The three police officers were taken to local hospital, and their condition was described as stable.

Members of Kosovo Police Service (KPS) formed under UNMIK\'s (U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) umbrella in 1999, were often targeted by local gangs throughout the internationally administrated province.

Despite the internationally sponsored effort to suppress organized crime in Kosovo, the formally Serbian province remains plagued by mafia-related activities.

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