12 July 2007

Explosion damages three U.N. vehicles in Kosovo

Associated Press, Monday, February 19, 2007 4:58 PM

PRISTINA, Serbia-An explosion late Monday damaged three U.N. vehicles in Kosovo's capital, police said, causing no injuries but raising tensions amid ongoing negotiations on the disputed province's future.

NATO-led peacekeepers sealed the blast area in downtown Pristina, and were investigating the 9:15 p.m. (2015GMT) explosion, which also damaged a civilian vehicle, police spokesman Veton Elshani said.

Elshani said it was still unclear what caused the explosion, but said police suspected the U.N. mission in Kosovo had been the target of a possible attack.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity while the investigation was ongoing, said authorities suspected an explosive device had been detonated beneath one of the U.N. vehicles.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku visited the area of the blast, which occurred 10 days after two people were killed in clashes between police and ethnic Albanian protesters who were objecting to a U.N. proposal for Kosovo's final status.

Ethnic Albanian leaders, who are insisting on full independence, and Serbian officials, who demand the province remain within Serb borders, planned to meet Wednesday in Vienna, Austria, for a final round of negotiations on Kosovo's future.

It would be their last chance to influence the U.N. plan on Kosovo, which currently proposes granting Kosovo internationally supervised statehood.

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.