Ally of injured former KLA commander shot dead in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Jul 13, 2000 -- (AFP) An assassin shot dead a former guerrilla fighter and associate of Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of a Kosovar Albanian political party who has been implicated in an armed attack, a source in Hardinaj's party said Wednesday.

Sadri Xhekaj was killed at 2:00 PM Tuesday (1200 GMT) while he was eating his lunch in a restaurant in Decani, in the southwest of the province, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) source said.

A report issued Wednesday by Kosovo's UN police read: "An Albanian male was killed as he sat on the patio of a restaurant, by a known Albanian male, who used an AK-47 rifle in the assault.

"The suspect approached the victim and asked him a question and then fired three shots into the victim. No-one else was injured."

Xhekaj was an associate of Haradinaj when both were fighters in the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during its war with Yugoslav forces in 1998-1999, a source in the multinational peacekeeping force KFOR said.

Haradinaj, a popular war hero, was injured during a confrontation early Friday with a family of political rivals in Streoc, around five kilometers (three miles) north of Decani.

He was treated in a US military base in Kosovo before being airlifted to a military hospital in Germany where he was operated on to remove a grenade fragment from his neck, according to KFOR.

Susan Manuel, a spokeswoman for the UN mission in Kosovo, said UN police detectives were to fly to Germany to question Haradinaj about the incident.

The two sides involved in Friday's confrontation have given wildly varying accounts of what took place. The UN police said Tuesday that their investigation was continuing, but confirmed that an exchange of fire had taken place between a group of men led by Haradinaj and members of the Musaj family.

The AAK have said that Haradinaj and his men had gone to the house to talk to the Musaj family, who they said were linked with the FARK, a guerrilla group which was a rival to the KLA, when a family member through a grenade.

For his part, Sadik Musaj, told AFP that Haradinaj had come to kidnap him and that the grenade had gone off in a struggle.

Haradinaj founded the AAK in May. Before Friday's attack western observers were predicting him a bright future in Kosovar politics.

Original article