Albanian Daily News - Dec 08

Murder toll shoots back up

Albanian Economic Tribune

PRISHTINA - Twenty-two people have been found murdered in Kosovo over the past week, more than seven times the "historic low" of the two previous weeks, a spokesman for the KFOR international peacekeepers said.

Major Roland Lavoie, a spokesman for the NATO-led force, said that the murder rate had gradually dropped over the five months since KFOR deployed in Kosovo in June to just three a week in the second half of November. But then it suddenly shot back up again.

"We went from a historic low to something similar to the time when KFOR first entered Kosovo," he told Reuters by telephone. "There is a total of 22, using data from the 27th, last Saturday, to the fourth of December, midnight. These are killings we know were not accidental," he said.

Seven of the victims were Serbs, seven Albanians and eight were unidentified.

Lavoie said that since there had been only one arrest so far, it was hard to identify a motive for the killings, adding that at least some could be attributed to ethnic tensions. He said the celebration of Albanian flag day, on November 28, could have contributed to the rise.

"We had an exceptional moment, with very heated celebrations," he said.

International officials in Kosovo have complained that a "culture of silence" among witnesses from the ethnic Albanian majority means that it is very difficult to find those responsible. (

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