13 July 2007

Kosovo: Ethnic Albanian rebels claim Pristina bombing



Pristina, 21 Feb. (AKI) - The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which in 1999 started a rebellion against Serbian rule in the southern breakaway province, has taken credit for Monday night's bombings in Pristina in which three United Nations vehicles were damaged, local media reported on Wednesday. The group said the attack was retaliation for the deaths of two two ethnic Albanian demonstrators killed by international police during violent clashes in the Kosovan capital, Pristina, on 10 February


 The KLA was dissolved and reportedly disarmed after Kosovo was put under UN control in 1999, but its former members were absorbed into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPS), which together with the international police and 17,000 strong NATO force keep order in the province whose majority ethnic Albanians demand independence.


In an Internet message sent to local media, the KLA said it had "reactivated itself" to avenge the deaths of two ethnic Albanian demonstrators killed by international police during violent clashes in Pristina in 10 February organised by a militant ethnic Albanian group Vetevendosje (Self-determination).


"These explosions were aimed at destroying vehicles belonging to UNMIK (the UN administration in Kosovo), not human casualties," the KLA said in a statement whose authenticity could not be verified. "The explosions were perpetrated as a sign of revenge for the killing of two demonstrators and the wounding more than 80," the statement said.


"The KLA will avenge any injustice done to the people," it added.


The bombings took place on the eve of UN sponsored Kosovo status talks which resumed in Vienna on Wednesday after eight previous rounds failed to bring the opposing ethnic Albanian and Serbian sides closer together.


Chief UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari has proposed a solution which would in effect grant Kosovo internationally supervised independence, but militant groups, like Vetevendosje oppose Ahtisaari's arrest and want to proclaim independence unilaterally. Belgrade, on the other hand, opposes Ahtisaari's plan, saying it means the creation of another Albanian state on Serbian territory.


Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica's centre-right Democratic Party of Serbia said in a statement it was "intolerable that Albanian separatists openly threaten with violence on the eve of Vienna talks," and that there was no reaction from the international community. Instead of "awarding terrorists" with granting Kosovo statehood, the international community should bring them to justice and "punish them severely," the statement said.


Belgrade has claimed all along that KLA has never been dissolved and disarmed and was used to apply pressure on the international community for the purpose of achieving independence of Kosovo.