Violence hits Kosovo politicians

Nicholas Woods

Friday August 11, 2000

Pristina - The UN authorities in Kosovo are investigating a series of sometimes fatal attacks on members of the province's biggest political party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), in the run-up to local elections in October.

They have set up an investigative committee with the power to impose fines and ban politicians from standing for election for six years.

The latest victim is Ganimete Salihu, 54, who died in an explosion in her home in town of Dragash on Wednesday. Her husband Avni Salihu, head of the town's department of sport and culture, was injured.

A week ago the charred remains of an LDK politician and prominent lawyer, Shaban Manaj, were found in a northern village where he had been reported kidnapped a fortnight earlier. Two other party members were shot and injured in separate incidents at the beginning of the month. Opinion polls show that the LDK is likely to win the elections, organised by the UN. Its main rival is the Democratic Party of Kosovo, led by Hashim Thaci, formerly the political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Senior LDK members say they are not being adequately protected by the UN. According to a report by the peacekeeping force, K-For, party members want to be allowed to carry weapons. Permission has been denied.

The UN has not decided whether the attacks are political. A spokeswoman said: "Clearly it is a very delicate situation, and that is why we have set up this new committee to establish whether there is a pattern to these attacks, or whether the same people are behind them."

Original article