KOSOVO: EXPLOSION ROCKS PRISTINA ON EVE OF STATUS TALKS

Published on February 27, 2007, adnkronos international

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

Pristina, 20 Feb. (AKI) - An explosion rocked the center of Pristina, capital of Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province late on Monday, damaging four automobiles, but there were no casualties, police said. "The explosion damaged three UN automobiles and a private car," said Kosovo police spokesman Veton Elsani. "Apart from material damage, there were no injuries," Elsani added.

Elsani said the police was investigating the incident that took place at 9.30 pm local time on Monday, near the United Nations headquarters in Pristina. "At the moment we can say nothing about perpetrators and their possible motives," Elsani said.

Kosovo, whose majority ethnic Albanians demand independence, has been under United Nations control since 1999 and UN led negotiations on the province's status are to resume on Wednesday in he Austrian capital, Vienna, after eight rounds of talks held last year failed to bridge the gap between Belgrade, which opposes independence, and ethnic Albanian leaders, who have said they will settle for nothing less.

Kosovo's prime minister Agim Ceku arrived on the scene only a few minutes after the explosion and condemned the "criminal act." He added: "Such acts are directed against the historical process taking place in Kosovo, but perpetrators of these criminal acts must be aware that they can’t stop Kosovo on its path towards independence."

Chief UN negotiator Martti Ahtisaari has worked out a plan which would in effect give Kosovo all attributes of a state, but Belgrade and militant ethnic Albanians groups have rejected the proposal. Two people were killed in violent demonstrations in Pristina on 10 February, organised by a militant ethnic Albanian group Vetevendosje (Self-determination) which opposes negotiations and wants Kosovo's parliament to declare independence unilaterally.

Ahtisaari has called the two sides to overcome thir differences in a series of talks to be held in Vienna and modify his plan before it goes for final approval in the UN Security Council in March.


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