Explosion in Kosovo damages vehicles of international security organization

Published on February 27, 2007, The Associated Press

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

PRISTINA, Serbia: An explosion west of Kosovo's capital damaged several vehicles belonging to an international security organization early Monday, police said. No one was hurt.

The blast, may have been caused by a hand grenade, said regional police spokesman Avni Gjevukaj. It shattered windows and slightly damaged seven vehicles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the agency's parking lot.

Two other vehicles that did not belong to the organization were also damaged.

OSCE spokesman Sven Lindholm said there was no indication that the OSCE had been the target of the attack in Pec, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Pristina. He said another unexploded hand grenade was found in the street outside the parking lot.

OSCE is part of the U.N. system that has administered Kosovo since 1999.

A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said the force believed the blast related to an incident last week when an explosion targeted a businessman.

Monday's explosion came on the eve of a visit to Serbia and Kosovo by the OSCE's chairman-in-office, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Tension has been high in the province amid negotiations between ethnic Albanians and Serbs to settle the dispute over Kosovo's future status. A U.N. plan proposes granting Kosovo internationally supervised statehood.

Three U.N. vehicles were bombed in Pristina a week ago, while two people were killed in clashes between police and ethnic Albanians protesting the U.N.'s plan.

Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu condemned the explosion as an attack "that benefits only those who do not want peace, stability and independence for Kosovo."

Ethnic Albanian leaders, who insist on full independence, and Serbian officials, who demand that the province remain within Serbia's borders, are to meet in Vienna on Tuesday for more talks on the issue.

The province has been a U.N. protectorate since 1999, when NATO bombing halted a Serb military crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. Nearly 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed and almost 1 million fled their homes. About 1,000 Serbs were killed in revenge attacks by Kosovo Albanians.

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