Serb Boy Killed in Apparent New Bid to Rock Kosovo
- 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
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.
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
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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