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U.N. Envoy Condemns Kosovo Violence

December 1, 1999

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ The top U.N. administrator in Kosovo placed a bouquet of flowers Wednesday at the site where a mob attacked a Serb family, and condemned the violence as an abuse of the province’s hard-won freedom.

Bernard Kouchner visited the highway in the center of the capital, Pristina, where Dragoslav Basic, his wife Dragica, and her mother, Borka Jovanovic were dragged from their car and beaten before hundreds of onlookers.

Basic was shot and killed, and the two women were hospitalized. Their car was overturned and set on fire.

``The attack is a grave misuse of the liberty awarded to the people of Kosovo,″ said a visibly angry Kouchner. He followed his remarks with a moment of silence.

The attack occurred Monday during festivities celebrating Kosovo’s biggest holiday

It revealed just how high ethnic tensions remain in Kosovo, where an estimated 10,000 people were killed in a war that began with a crackdown on ethnic Albanian militants seeking independence from Yugoslavia. The war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign and the arrival of peacekeepers in June.

A key ethnic Albanian political leader in Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, also condemned the attack in a formal statement published on the front page of Kosovo’s leading newspaper, Koha Ditore.

Thaci warned that people in Kosovo should take the advice of international leaders who have pleaded for ethnic tolerance.

``Otherwise, we can jeopardize all the achievements we have won by sweat and blood,″ he said.

The brutality of Monday’s attack was reminiscent of the slaying earlier this year of U.N. employee Valentin S. Krumov, who was beaten by a mob and shot while strolling the city’s main thoroughfare after responding in Serbian to a passer-by who asked for the time.

Violence has continued in other parts of Kosovo. An ethnic Albanian man was shot and killed Tuesday in Leskovac, around 30 miles west of Pristina.

Peacekeepers on patrol near Pristina also found the body of a man who apparently died within the last week. The body of another man was found Tuesday in the center of Kosovska Mitrovica.

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