Reuters, December 05, 2005
UN tightens security in Kosovo after bus attack
PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The governor of United Nations-run Kosovo ordered security be stepped up across Serbia's majority Albanian province on Sunday following an overnight grenade attack on a bus.
Soren Jessen-Petersen instructed U.N. police to take "stringent measures to enhance security" including extra police patrols and vehicle checkpoints following the non-fatal incident near the southwestern town of Prizren.
No one was hurt when the bus carrying ethnic Albanians and people belonging to several ethnic minorities, including one Serb, was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade which pierced the passenger compartment but failed to explode.
The bus was part of a regular line running between the Kosovo town of Dragas and the Serbian capital Belgrade, Serb media reported.
The attack was the latest in a string of shootings and small bomb blasts in the last six months and which U.N. officials have linked with the recent launch of negotiations on the future status of the province.
"Incidents such as the one last night demonstrate that, during the status process which has just begun, isolated individuals or groups who do not have Kosovo's best interests in mind may attempt to disrupt Kosovo's way forward for their own ulterior motives," Jessen-Petersen said in a statement.
Police were being redeployed to ensure a visible presence in potentially vulnerable areas such as schools and religious establishments, he said.
U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari launched a shuttle mission last month aimed at preparing the ground for direct negotiations in early 2006 on the future status of Kosovo, where the 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority demands independence from Serbia.
The province of 2 million people became a de facto U.N. protectorate in 1999 when NATO bombing drove out Serb forces accused of brutal atrocities against Albanian civilians in a two-year war with separatist guerrillas.
Thousands of Serbs and other ethnic minorities fled a wave of revenge of revenge attacks after the conflict. More than 100,000 chose to stay, many in isolated enclaves watched over by a 17,000-strong NATO-led peace force.
An upsurge in attacks on ethnic minorities since the summer is widely seen as a warning to the international community against giving in to Serbia's demand that Kosovo -- the so-called cradle of Serb heritage -- remain within its borders.
Most Kosovo Albanians view negotiations with Serbia as unnecessary and insulting. They reject any return to Serb rule.