Device explodes under UN vehicle in Kosovo; damage but no injuries

20 February 2007

An unidentified explosive device went off under a parked United Nations vehicle in Kosovo last night at a crucial time for the Albanian-majority Serbian province, which the world body has run since 1999, following the unveiling of proposals for its final status.

The explosion in Pristina, the capital, which damaged two other UN vehicles and a civilian one as well as shattering windows in nearby houses and shops, comes less than two weeks after UN police used rubber bullets against pro-independence ethnic Albanian demonstrators, killing two of them.

“The UN condemns any acts of violence directed at UN property or personnel,” the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said in a statement today. No injuries were reported and the police are investigating the circumstances of the incident.

The proposals, drawn up by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Special Envoy for the status process, Martti Ahtisaari, call for the province, where Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1, to have the right to govern itself and conclude international agreements, including membership in international bodies, with an international civilian and military presence supervising the arrangements.

But it does not specifically mention independence, which Serbia rejects but which many ethnic Albanians seek. The UN has run the province ever since North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid brutal ethnic fighting.

In a related move the Deputy UN police Commissioner has been named acting Commissioner, replacing his former chief whose resignation Mr. Ban’s Special Representative in Kosovo Joachim Rücker requested after the police used rubber bullets during the demonstration by the ethnic Albanian Vetëvendosja (self-determination) group on 10 February.

Deputy Commissioner of Crime Trygve Kalleberg will replace Stephen Curtis until the formal appointment of a new chief by Mr. Ban following the usual procedures, which are expected to take several months, UNMIK said.

 

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