UN mission 'strongly condemns' attack on World Bank delegation in Kosovo

8 December 2003

The United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today strongly condemned the violent attack on the World Bank Board of Governors over the weekend in Mitrovica, a town that has been a flashpoint of tension between ethnic Albanians and Serbs over the past two years.

"It is reprehensible that armed and violent gangs are still acting in this manner in the northern part of Mitrovica, or any area of Kosovo," the mission said in a statement. "UNMIK calls on all to repudiate them and their methods. They directly contradict the standards for Kosovo that responsible leaders are working to achieve."

The incident, in which one World Bank delegation member was slightly hurt, began when the delegation visited a local restaurant in mainly Serb north Mitrovica where, by chance, the ethnic Albanian Prime Minister of Kosovo, Bajram Rexhepi, paid a visit.

Several unidentified people threw stones, damaging the windows. Mr. Rexhepi left and was not injured, but the delegation, while leaving by UN bus and cars, became disoriented and ended up at the North Mitrovica Hospital "where regrettably the incident continued," UNMIK said in a statement issued after the incident on Saturday.

A crowd of about 150 people gathered, the UN bus was damaged and two Kosovo police vehicles were burned. Eventually the delegation made its way safely to Regional Police Headquarters, where one member was treated for minor injuries.

In today's statement UNMIK reaffirmed that "the Prime Minister is Prime Minister of all Kosovo and can travel freely anywhere in its territory."


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