Washington Post - Gunmen kill Serb in cafe in Kosovo

By Peter Finn

Sunday, December 19, 1999

ORAHOVAC, Yugoslavia, Dec. 18 –– In the latest revenge attack on Serbs in Kosovo, a 38-year-old father of three was killed and nine other men were wounded Friday when gunmen opened fire on the only cafe in a Serbian enclave here and then tossed in two grenades.

About 15 men were having beer and coffee by candlelight in a one-room cafe when 30 rounds from automatic weapons ripped through the darkness, witnesses said. Two gunmen fled on foot, they said.

Zoran Vukicevic, a former power plant worker, was fatally injured. U.N. police who arrived at the scene were attacked by an angry mob before peacekeeping troops dispersed the crowd. No one has been arrested, U.N. police said.

Vukicevic's death was at least the 146th killing of a Serb since NATO-led peacekeepers entered Kosovo, a Serbian province, six months ago. Kosovo's Serbian population, once about 200,000, has dwindled to less than 50,000 as killings and house-burnings have forced tens of thousands to flee. Many of the attacks have been committed by ethnic Albanians who, after being driven from the province this spring by Serbian forces, have returned and have sought revenge.

"They are animals," Nemanja Vukicevic, the dead man's 11-year-old son, said outside his home in this community of 2,000 Serbs clustered around a Serbian Orthodox Church and surrounded by military checkpoints.

Most Serbs in Kosovo now live in segregated enclaves such as this one and are effectively prisoners in their own homes, sustained by donated beans and pasta trucked in weekly. There are no shops, and the one cafe is now heavily damaged.

"It's not possible to have a full life here when they can shoot me and try to kill me in front of my house," said Dragan Simic, 40, who was shot in the shoulder. "We can't go to the shops. We can't go anywhere. But the Albanians can come in here and try to kill us."

Bernard Kouchner, the U.N. representative in Kosovo, this week appealed to the international community to live up to its pledges to supply police; of 4,800 pledged officers, only 1,800 have arrived. Kouchner called the shortfall a "scandal" that is contributing to the general lawlessness.

"This is like the Wild West now," said one U.N. official, "except they didn't have grenades and AK-47s in the Wild West."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11405-1999Dec19.html

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