Serb lawmaker shot and wounded in north of Kosovo

By Nebi Qena, AP
Monday, July 5, 2010

Serb lawmaker shot in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Kosovo — A gunman wounded a Serb member of Kosovo’s parliament on Monday, police said, in an attack that could further stoke ethnic tensions in the unstable region.

The four shots were fired at legislator Petar Miletic, 35, as he walked out of his apartment in the northern town of Mitrovica, said police spokesman Besim Hoti. Miletic was hit once in the knee, Hoti said. His injuries were not life-threatening.

It was unclear if the shooting was linked to Miletic’s work. He is one of only 10 Serb members of Kosovo’s 120-seat assembly, which is dominated by the ethnic Albanians that make up the majority of Kosovo’s population.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 following a bloody civil war, and some of Kosovo’s Serb minority regard Serbs who work with the Kosovo government as traitors.

The attack on Miletic came amid heightened tensions after a man died Friday in an explosion during Serb protests against Pristina’s rule.

In Kosovo’s assembly on Monday, parliament speaker Jakup Krasniqi blamed Belgrade for “initiating and perhaps committing” the recent violence ahead of a ruling by the world’s highest court on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

The Netherlands-based International Court of Justice is expected to rule later this month on whether Kosovo’s secession breached international law. The ruling is not legally binding, but it could affect future diplomatic recognition.

Kosovo’s declaration of independence was swiftly recognized by the United States and most countries in the European Union, but the number of countries who recognize it has stalled at 69, largely because of a diplomatic campaign by Serbia.

Serbia’s top official for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, told the state-run Tanjug news agency the recent attacks are aimed at preventing talks between the two sides.

Serbia wants a new round of negotiations on Kosovo’s status, but ethnic Albanian leaders reject that option. No date has been set for the talks, but they are likely to be held in late 2010 and deal with arrangements over the Serb-dominated north.

NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 in a bid to end a brutal crackdown by the forces of then President Slobodan Milosevic against separatist Kosovo Albanians. Some 10,000 Albanians were killed and close to a million forced out of their homes. Hundreds of Serbs were also killed in retaliatory attacks by Kosovo separatists.

Ethnic Albanians — who make up over 90 percent of Kosovo’s population — decided to split from Serbia after almost two years of internationally monitored talks that failed to secure Serbia’s approval for the secession, despite broad rights offered to minority Serbs.

But Kosovo’s authorities and NATO, which is still responsible for security, have struggled to control the north, the home of most Kosovan Serbs.

will not be displayed