Serb priest wounded in drive-by shooting

PRISTINA, Jul 13, 2000 -- (Reuters) Attackers with automatic weapons wounded a Serbian Orthodox priest and two companions, believed to be trainee priests, in a drive-by shooting in Kosovo on Wednesday, international authorities said.

Father Dragan Kojic and his companions had been travelling together with a child near the village of Klokot after a mass in the east of the province in the late morning when the attackers struck, international agencies said.

The NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force said international police had found the three wounded men by the side of the road. The police had taken them to the Camp Bondsteel U.S. military base, where they were reported to be stable pending surgery.

Kosovo Serbs have been the target of numerous acts of violence by majority ethnic Albanians seeking vengeance for years of Serbian repression but Wednesday's attack sparked particular revulsion among international officials.

"I am not only shocked but deeply depressed that today criminals chose religious men as their targets," said Bernard Kouchner, head of Kosovo's United Nations-led administration.

"It is totally unacceptable that this kind of revenge killing substitute itself for justice," he said in a statement.

International authorities took charge of Kosovo in June last year after NATO bombing to end repression of ethnic Albanians drove out Serb forces. They have, however, been unable to prevent widespread attacks on Serbs and other minorities.

As well as targeting individuals, attackers have also blown up Serbian Orthodox churches, viewed by many ethnic Albanians as a symbol of Serb domination and repression.

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