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1069Serb Boy Killed in Apparent New Bid to Rock Kosovo

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  • Ferguson
    Jun 6, 2004
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      Serb Boy Killed in Apparent New Bid to Rock Kosovo
      from Reuters on Saturday, June 05, 2004

      Article ID: D147106
      A Serb teenager was shot dead in Kosovo on Saturday
      and police quickly arrested two Albanians suspected of
      trying to ignite another round of ethnic violence in
      the United Nations-run province.

      U.N. police spokesman Malcolm Ashby said 16-year-old
      Dimitrije Popovic died when gunmen fired from a car
      into a group of young Serbs at a hamburger kiosk at 2
      a.m. Police in Pristina later stopped a suspect car
      and seized two Albanians with guns.

      The killing, in the Serb enclave of Gracanica, was the
      first since mid-March when 19 people died and villages
      were torched in what NATO said was an "orchestrated"
      bid to provoke the worst violence in Kosovo's five
      years under United Nations rule.

      "The criminals must be brought to justice and as soon
      as possible the motives for this criminal act must be
      found," Kosovo Albanian Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi
      said. "I call on all citizens of Kosovo to remain
      calm."

      Kosovo Albanian President Ibrahim Rugova said "such
      acts are directed against civil peace in Kosovo,
      against our country's future and independence."

      Albanian leaders were faulted in March for failing to
      quickly condemn the violence. Hampered by an Albanian
      code of silence or outright intimidation, U.N. police
      have also been criticized in the past for failing to
      make quick arrests.

      UNSAFE ENCLAVES

      It was not clear how the suspected gunmen managed to
      drive in and out of Gracanica. The NATO-led
      peacekeeping mission KFOR re-established checkpoints
      on the outskirts of the town after the March riots,
      saying their removal was a mistake.

      KFOR spokesman Colonel Jim Moran said some checkpoints
      "may have been relaxed." By afternoon, Gracanica was
      calm and under control but the roads in and out were
      sealed off until Monday.

      Oliver Ivanovic, a Serb member of Kosovo's parliament,
      blamed the U.N. and NATO for not stopping militants.
      "There is no living together here... We must seal off
      all roads through Serb districts," he said.

      The head of Serbia's Kosovo Coordination Center,
      Nebojsa Covic, said the murder was "a message to the
      EU foreign policy chief (Javier) Solana who is
      arriving in Pristina on Monday, (and) a farewell
      message to...Harri Holkeri."

      Holkeri, Kosovo's fourth U.N. governor since 1999,
      quit two weeks ago under pressure. He returned to
      Kosovo on Saturday ahead of a final meeting with
      Solana, as international efforts to resolve Kosovo's
      demand for independence by 2005 intensify.

      Speaking on arrival Pristina airport, Holkeri said he
      did not want to see a repeat of the March violence and
      believed most decent Kosovo people did not want that
      either.

      It was a similar shooting in another Serb enclave,
      quickly followed by the drowning of three Albanian
      boys in a river, that ignited mob violence in March.
      Albanian media were condemned for blaming Serbs for
      the drowning and fomenting 'revenge' attacks.

      Serbs were targeted for revenge after Kosovo came
      under U.N. control in 1999 following NATO's 11-week
      bombing war to halt Serb repression of the
      independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

      Belgrade has complained bitterly that those Serbs who
      chose to stay as 200,000 fled north are not adequately
      protected but its plan to create autonomous Serb
      enclaves is rejected by the Western powers that
      ordered intervention as a form of partition.

      Copyright 2004 by Reuters. All rights reserved






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