Moderate Kosovo party hit again by violent attack

PRISTINA, Aug 8, 2000 -- (AFP) A member of the ethnic-Albanian moderate Kosovo Democratic League (LDK) narrowly escaped injury when he was attacked by gunmen, a UN police spokesman said Monday.

In the latest in a wave of attacks in the UN-administered province, Mehmet Gerkinaj, an LDK chief near the northwestern town of Srbica, was attacked outside his home late Sunday by unidentified gunmen, spokesman Andriej Stepien told AFP.

The supporter of moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova escaped the attack with no injuries, police said and an enquiry has begun.

A wave of political violence appears to be sweeping Kosovo in the run-up to October municipal elections, and LDK members have been its most frequent victims.

On Saturday another senior member of the LDK -- Kosovo's leading ethnic Albanian political party -- was found dead 10 days after his family reported him kidnapped.

On Wednesday last week, unidentified gunmen shot and injured Sejdi Koci, the leader of the LDK in Srbica, also in northwest Kosovo.

This attack followed a similar shooting the day before which left Agim Veliu, LDK leader in Podujevo, northeast Kosovo, slightly injured.

In reaction to the wave of violence, Kosovo's UN administration announced Thursday it was creating a cell of UN officials, police investigators, peacekeeping troops and OSCE election monitors to examine the problem of political violence.

The KFOR multinational peacekeeping force also announced last week that it hoped to send an additional 2,000 troops to Kosovo to oversee security in the run-up to the poll.

October's elections will be the first fully democratic poll ever held in Kosovo. Voters will choose local administrations in the province's 30 municipality.

Polls conducted by the OSCE in the province earlier this year suggested that the LDK will come out well ahead in voting, with their nearest rivals likely to be the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of Hashim Thaci, the former political leader of the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army.

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