UN moves to counter increased political violence in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Aug 4, 2000 -- (AFP) Kosovo's UN administration is to set up a body to monitor political violence after two leading politicians were shot in as many days, a senior official said Thursday.

Eric Chevallier, special adviser to Kosovo's UN administrator Bernard Kouchner, said: "We will not allow these actions to continue if they are organised."

He was speaking after Sejdi Koci, head of the Kosovo Democratic League (LDK) in the northern Kosovo town of Srbica, was shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen late Wednesday as he drove between his home town and Pristina.

He was hit three times in the neck and arm, but was expected to survive, a UN police spokesman said.

On Tuesday, Agim Veliu, head of the LDK in Podujevo, northeast Kosovo, was shot and slightly injured in the town, according to Captain Kath Hurley, a spokeswoman for the KFOR multinational peacekeeping force.

The shootings appear to be part of a wave of violence against political figures including kidnappings, arson attacks and intimidation throughout the Yugoslav province since municipal elections were announced for October.

Chevallier said Kouchner's office would set up a cell to monitor the violence. It will include members of the administration, the UN police, KFOR and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is charged with overseeing the poll.

"It will look at possible trends ... indicating an organized campaign of intimidation or threats," he said.

It was always difficult to prove a link between individual attacks and political leaders, he added, but vowed that the UN police would be given a free hand to investigate any crimes, no matter who was behind them.

"There will not be any interference with any police investigation," he said.

KFOR spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Patrice Poulain told AFP Wednesday that 2,000 extra soldiers would be deployed around Kosovo in the build-up to the elections to attempt to head off violence.

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