Serb minister's bodyguard shot in row

BELGRADE, Jan 29, 2000 -- (Reuters) The chief bodyguard of Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj was shot and seriously wounded on Friday, apparently in a row, hospital sources said.

Doctors from Belgrade's Emergency Center said Petar Panic, one of several men protecting Seselj, who is also leader of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party, had been brought in with shotgun wounds. Seselj himself was not hurt.

"He (Panic) was brought in at 12.44 p.m. (1144 GMT) with at least six bullet wounds," one of the doctors said.

Another doctor said Panic had serious internal wounds and had lost a lot of blood.

A member of the medical staff who spoke to Panic when he was brought in said he had explained he had been in an apartment in Surcin, a northwestern suburb of Belgrade, with acquaintances when an argument began. One of them took out a gun and shot him.

The shooting comes nearly two weeks after Serb paramilitary leader Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic was shot dead in the lobby of a Belgrade hotel.

Seselj's Radical Party is part of the ruling coalition led by the Socialist Party of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and the Yugoslav Left party run by his wife.

Known for his ultra-nationalist views and ready jibes against his critics, Seselj made no comment as he arrived and later left the hospital, which was guarded by two policemen.

His deputy, Tomislav Nikolic, and Milovan Bojic, another deputy Prime Minister, also arrived at the hospital as did a large number of bodyguards. Seselj later went off to give blood.