Kosovo bus route targeted in second bomb attack
PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, January 5, 2006
- A bomb was thrown at a moving bus in Kosovo on Wednesday night causing damage but no injuries to the 55 passengers aboard, a United Nations spokesman in the disputed Serbian province said.
It was the second attack in the past month on a bus from the remote town of Dragas to the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Kosovo's ethnic minorities often use the route, but members of Kosovo's 90 percent Albanian majority are also frequent passengers.
"An explosive device was thrown at the right rear end of the bus, causing some damage," U.N. spokesman Neeraj Singh told Reuters on Thursday. He said some of the passengers were ethnic members of various minority groups but most were Albanians.
The U.N. mission, fearing more ethnic violence by Kosovo Albanian extremists against Serbs and other minorities, stepped up security in December after a rocket-propelled grenade pierced the side of a bus but failed to explode.
The U.N took control of the province of 2 million people in 1999 after NATO bombs drove out Serb forces accused of atrocities against Albanian civilians in a two-year war with separatist guerrillas. Over 100,000 Serbs and other minorities stayed on after as many fled revenge attacks after the war.
Shootings and small bomb blasts, often targeting Serbs and other minorities, have increased over the past year as the West moves to address the "final status" of Kosovo.
They are blamed on Albanian extremists impatient for independence, who seek to warn Western powers against giving in to Serbia's demand that Kosovo -- seen as the cradle of the Serbian people -- remain within its borders.
Officials have warned of a possible upsurge in violence as negotiations on Kosovo's future status get under way, with the first direct meeting between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian politicians pencilled in for late January in Vienna.