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Kosovo Report: September 6, 1999

6 September 1999, Number 32, Volume 1

VIOLENCE CONTINUES THROUGHOUT KOSOVO. Unidentified attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a truck on a road near Mitrovica on 5 September, killing the ethnic Albanian driver and injuring a woman, AP reported. The previous day, attackers fired a similar grenade at a city bus near Gjilan, injuring two ethnic Albanians. Unidentified people killed three Serbs in the village of Musutisht, near Prishtina.

In Peja, unidentified attackers fired anti-tank rockets at the building of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate but missed their target. In Dobrotin, south of Prishtina, other unidentified persons fired seven mortar rounds into an unspecified neighborhood. On 3 September, a young ethnic Serb was killed in an explosion in Prishtina, while five ethnic Albanians, including three children, were injured in the apparent attack. The Serb who died was known locally for his good relations with ethnic Albanians, Reuters reported.

UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner said in Prishtina on 4 September that "we will not accept the return of blind violence against innocent people." He called on all citizens to "break the law of silence" by coming forward with information leading to the arrest of criminals. General Agim Ceku, who heads the Kosovo Liberation Army's (UCK) General Staff, also condemned the attack in Prishtina, Reuters reported.

The Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms announced that Serbian citizens in Mitrovica are still hindering ethnic Albanians from returning to their homes in the northern part of the city, and insulting, beating and expelling them. The council also said that local Serbs had destroyed the tents of some Albanians, who returned to the town recently. Some 136 ethnic Albanian families were scheduled to return to their homes last week after the removal of mines.

Meanwhile, the main road in Gracanica remained blocked for the fifth day in a row by Serbian citizens, protesting the kidnapping of one of their kinsmen. Elsewhere, the roads leading to and from Rahovec also remained closed by ethnic Albanians, who are trying to prevent the deployment of Russian soldiers in that town.

SOLANA CALLS FOR PATIENCE. In an interview for the daily "Koha Ditore," NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana predicted that it will take time and patience to overcome the remaining problems in Kosovo especially in cities like Mitrovica. Asked about increasing speculation regarding a possible partition of Kosovo, Solana said that such an idea will not have the support of the international community.

WILL KOUCHNER EXPAND THE TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL? "Koha Ditore" reported that UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner is planning to expand the Kosovo Transitional Council. The plan envisages the inclusion of smaller political parties that are represented in the shadow-state parliament. Others included in the council would be Bardhyl Mahmuti of the recently founded Democratic Union Party and Bujar Bukoshi, shadow-state Prime Minister.

But Gjergj Dedaj from the Liberal Party of Kosovo, which repeatedly complained about its exclusion from the council, told RFE/RL: "I have no information about a possible expansion of the Transitional Council... However I hope that this will happen because only our own members can represent the Liberal Democrats, no other party can do that."

Representatives of the Social Democratic Party, which like the Liberals is a member of the parliament, told RFE/RL that they held talks with Kouchner recently, in which they urged him to include those parties elected in the shadow-state elections of March 1992 in the Transitional Council.