CEOL
Draskovic shot and wounded

BELGRADE, Jun 16, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic has been shot at and wounded by an unknown gunman in Yugoslavia's smaller republic Montenegro, an official from his party said on Friday.

"Just before midnight, a new assassination attempt was made on Vuk Draskovic. Several volleys were fired through the window of his house in Budva," Milena Popovic, head of the press office of Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, said by telephone.

"Vuk was hit by two bullets, but fortunately he was only slightly wounded. His condition is stable and he is hospitalized in Kotor," she said, referring to a coastal town in the pro-Western republic, which is gradually edging away from the federation run by Slobodan Milosevic and dominated by Serbia.

Draskovic, a charismatic maverick who claims more popular support than any other opposition leader in Serbia, alleges the government tried to kill him last year in a road accident that killed four close aides.

"He was saved by God as he was last year," Popovic said. "His apartment was peppered with bullets.

Another source, close to the party, told Reuters Draskovic had been wounded in the ear and on the side of the forehead. He was conscious and able to describe the incident. When the gunman opened fire he said he had managed to hide somewhere in the flat and later escaped.

Belgrade's independent news agency Beta quoted Budva police chief Rajko Kuljaca as saying unknown attackers had opened fire on Draskovic as he was leaving his flat in the Montenegrin town.

DRASKOVIC REGULARLY ACCUSES AUTHORITIES OF "STATE TERROR"

Draskovic regularly accuses the authorities of "state terror" over last year's car crash, in which he was slightly injured. Officials have denied having anything to do with the incident, in which a truckload of sand veered into two cars carrying Draskovic and his friends.

Police say they have not been able to find the driver or the owner of the truck.

Thursday's shooting follows a string of mysterious assassinations of officials and underworld figures in Belgrade. Earlier this month, the security adviser to Montenegro's pro-Western president was gunned down in similar circumstances shortly before a key local election.

Milosevic's government blames the killings on Western agents it says are intent on destroying and then occupying Serbia.

It has cracked down on dissent this year, accusing Draskovic and other opposition leaders, who have been campaigning to oust Milosevic since last year's NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia over the repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, of "terrorism".

Earlier this month the government took over the television station in Belgrade, which Draskovic controls through his party's leadership of the city council.

It later also took over the public transport service in the city, after opposition activists urged Draskovic to use the buses to blockade government buildings. A few days later, Draskovic's bodyguards were arrested for carrying guns when they came to collect him at Belgrade airport from a visit to Russia.



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