NY Times
UN sounds warning after Kosovo bomb attack

August 18, 2000


PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (Reuters) - A bomb blast ripped through a building on Friday in the heart of the Kosovo capital Pristina housing offices of local political parties and Serbian authorities.

Two people were slightly injured in the explosion, which blew out windows and sent glass flying into neighboring buildings.

Bernard Kouchner, the head of the province's United Nations-led administration, pointed the finger at extremists bent on destabilizing Kosovo in the run-up to October elections billed as the first free and fair polls in its history.

"It will be like that going to elections, to October 28, and we are ready and prepared to ensure security as much as possible," he said after visiting the scene.

"We are convinced, unfortunately, that all the extremists -- from Belgrade to some extremists here in Kosovo -- will make the utmost effort...to spoil the election system," he said.

The blast, at around 9:30 a.m. (0730 GMT), was heard across the city. British soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force and international police raced to the building and cordoned it off.

The offices of an ethnic Turkish party and a Bosniak (Muslim Slav) party, representing two small minority groups in the Yugoslav province, were among the most damaged.

The offices were part of a political support center run by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the building also houses Yugoslav authorities, making it difficult for officials to determine the target.

"This building is OSCE. It has Albanians in it. It has Serbs in it as well. So, you know, anyone could have been injured here," Flight-Lieutenant Tim Serrell-Cooke, a British military spokesman, said outside the building on Pristina's main street.

BELGRADE SEES CAMPAIGN TO "ERASE" YUGOSLAV STATE

The head of Belgrade's liaison committee with the U.N. mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said the attack was part of a continuing campaign to erase the presence of the Yugoslav state from the province, where ethnic Albanians form the majority.

Kosovo legally remains a part of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia but has been under de facto international rule since NATO bombing drove out Serb forces in June last year.

Kosovo's Serbs and other minorities have been the targets of frequent attacks by vengeful ethnic Albanians, angry at years of Serb repression.

Earlier this month two ethnic Albanian politicians from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party led by Ibrahim Rugova were shot and wounded in separate attacks.



Original article