Jeta Xharra and Tatjana Matic (ed: SianGlaessner) | 19.08.2003 21:36 | World
A pattern repeated in the divided town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, with four explosions in four days. Most recently, a bomb went off late on August 16 outside a building inhabited by ethnic Albanians in the Serb-dominated northern part of the city. These attacks are unhindered by increased security measures by the UN police and NATO-led peacekeepers. Angela Joseph, spokeswoman for the police force run by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, said:"I believe these incidents to be an act of retaliation [by] members of the Serb community... due to the tragic death of two Serb youths in Gorazdevac,". At a UN initiated special meeting on this problem, Serbian deputy prime minister Nebojsa Covic took the opportunity to blame Albanian extremists for what he said was a campaign to "drive all Serbs out of Kosovo and Metohjia, and discourage any refugees and internally displaced persons from returning, and in that way to bring the ethnic cleansing of the province to completion", a claim echoed by former Bridge Watchers, (Serb paramilitaries in Mitorvica).
Meanwhile, leading Albanian politician Ramush Haradinaj, head of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, claimed that Serb forces were responsible for the Gorazdevac killings - even though it was young Serbs who died. "It can't be pure coincidence that this murder happened on the day the new SRSG [UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo], Harri Holkeri, arrived in Kosovo," he said.
Locals say the recent violence has reduced the already low level of trust that now exists between Serbs and Albanians. Antoneta Kastrati, 22, lives in the Albanian village of Zahac near where the young Serbs were killed, "We used to have a 'live and let live' sort of relationship with the neighbouring village. We didn't love each other but we didn't attack each other either. Now, because the murderers made their escape in the direction of our village, our houses have been searched and the atmosphere is far more tense," A 35-year old Albanian taxi driver sitting outside a café in Peja, who preferred not to be named, said, "I used to drive through Gorazdevac to take customers to four or five Albanian villages on the other side of the town, but after this incident I wouldn't do it - it isn't safe."
Jeta Xharra and Tatjana Matic (ed: SianGlaessner)