'Ex-guerrilla chief attacked us'

STREOC, Jul 10, 2000 -- (AFP) A Kosovo Albanian family told AFP Saturday that they had been attacked in their home by around 40 gunmen under the command of Ramush Haradinaj, one of the province's most prominent politicians and a former guerrilla leader.

Haradinaj, himself toting an assault rifle, and a gang of men armed with guns and grenades surrounded the house in the village of Streoc, in western Kosovo, at around 1:00 a.m. Friday (2300 GMT Thursday), said 35-year-old Sadik Musaj.

Haradinaj, 32, is the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), a former regional commander of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army and one-time second-in-command of its civilian successor, the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC).

According to several members of Musaj's family, the gunmen, said to be members of the KPC, began firing at the house.

According to Sadik Musaj, Haradinaj shouted: "Give yourselves up, otherwise you and your entire family will die."

At that,Musaj pulled out a pistol, he said, and began to return fire. The ensuing gun-battle lasted two hours, he said.

Musaj told AFP that he had managed to get a hold of a grenade brought by one of the attackers and had thrown it at Haradinaj, injuring both him and his brother Daut, himself a leading member of the KPC.

AFP saw bullet holes in the outside walls of the Muraj family home, in its windows, and in cars parked outside the house, along with a crater said to mark the spot where the grenade had exploded.

Haradinaj approached KFOR peacekeeping troops just after midday Friday and asked for medical assistance, according to Kosovo's UN police and KFOR. He was flown by helicopter to Camp Bondsteel, a huge US military base in the south of the province, where he was treated for facial injuries.

He remained under medical observation in Bondsteel on Saturday night, KFOR chief spokesman Major Scott Slaten said, but his condition was stable.

There was no word of any other injuries.

UN police spokesman Larry Guyton told AFP that officers investigating the Muraj family's allegations would question Haradinaj late Saturday at the base.

For its part, the AAK issued a statement Saturday claiming that Haradinaj and his brother had themselves been victims of what the party condemned as a "terrorist attack" in which they had been wounded. A grenade had been thrown or fired at their car it said.

Sadik Musaj claimed that Haradinaj had in June 1999 kidnapped one of his brothers, a member of the Armed Forces of the Kosovo Republic (FARK), a ethnic Albanian guerrilla group and a rival of the KLA.

"I know the truth, so Ramush wanted rid of me," he said.

Musaj went on to claim that four FARK members from the Streoc region had been seized on the same day as his brother. One of them managed to escape, but the others are still missing, he and other members of his family said.

"Round here everyone knows about the injustices carried out by Ramush," Musaj, wearing a bullet-proof vest, said.

Haradinaj and his armed gang had tried to kidnap him twice before, in July and December last year, he said. On both occasion shots were fired and complaints were made to KFOR and the UN police, he added.

On Saturday KFOR peacekeeping troops and UN police officers were mounting a guard outside the Musaj family home.

UN police on Saturday arrested two members of the KPC in Decani, some four kilometers (two miles) south of Musaj's home in Streoce, the Pristina duty officer Andreas Hermenau told AFP.

The men were later freed from a police station in Pec, 15 kilometres to the north of Decani, after more KPC members surrounded the building and KPC chief Agim Ceku intervened to negotiate their release, the officer said.

Ethnic Alabanians also set up roadblocks around Decani itself. A spokesman for the KFOR brigade responsible for the area said they had been set up in protest at the arrests.

The police would not say whether the men had been arrested in connection with the alleged attack on the Musaj family, but Sadik Musaj said they had been picked up by KFOR troops at a checkpoint in front of the house and that two pistols had been found on them.

Original article