Doctor killed, 11 Serbs hurt in Kosovo blast

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- An explosive device was thrown among a group of protesting Serbs in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, killing one and wounding 11 people, said reports.

The body of Mensur Džeković is transported home (Beta)
The body of Mensur Džeković is transported home (Beta)

The incident happened at around 10:00 CET. It is unclear who attacked the protesters.

Serbian President Boris Tadić said that Belgrade would not react to today's events, and added that the incident was a "provocation to peace and to Serbia".

Tadić asked international institutions to react strongly in condemnation of the incident, and convened the Council for National Security for a meeting in Belgrade today.

Meanwhile, Kosovska Mitrovica Healthcare Center Director Milan Jakovljević identified the victim as his colleague, pediatrician Mensur Džeković.

Before the news came that Džeković had succumbed to his wounds, Jakovljević said that he was injured in front of his family home, and that his life is in danger after his heart sustained serious trauma.

Six women and five men were also hurt, mostly by shrapnel, as they attended a protest described as peaceful.

The attack came as close to a thousand Serbs gathered in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, protesting against the Kosovo Albanian government's intention to open an office there.

The Priština government wants to open the office to issue personal documents, and Albanian language daily Zeri writes that it is the "first step to integrate this region".

Representatives of those who gathered today want the plans for the office to be scrapped.

The flashpoint town is divided by the Ibar River into the northern, predominantly Serb part that has ethnic Albanian and Muslim neighborhoods, while no Serbs live in the ethnic Albanian, southern part of the town.

As the protest unfolded today, KFOR and Kosovo police, KPS, members were seen on a bridge that divides the town.

Sirens were heard at one point during the morning, while the Kosovo Albanian government premises are guarded by EULEX, said reports.

The situation in the town in now tense, with KFOR helicopters flying over.

EULEX has no information about the direction from which the hand grenade was thrown, spokeswoman Irina Gudeljević was quoted as saying.

According to her, the EU mission has condemned the throwing of the bomb and all other acts of violence and called on all to remain calm and avoid any action that could lead to a deterioration of the situation.

Kosovska Mitrovica District chief Radenko Nedeljković was present at the protest, along with presidents of the northern, Serb municipalities, directors of institutions and companies, who all agreed that the people would not allow for institutions of the so-called state of Kosovo to be set up in this part of the province, Beta reports.

Nedeljković also met with EULEX representatives, whose special police forces are guarding the office. The protesters were not allowed to gather in front of that building "for security reasons".

The Zubin Potok municipal president, Slaviša Ristić, accused the EU mission, EULEX, of not acting in a status-neutral manner, but of instead "doing everything they could in the past year and a half" to establish authorities of the so-called independent Kosovo in the north of the province.

Albanian language media in Priština, meanwhile, quoted unnamed sources who said that the goal of the office was to "integrate the Serb community into the system and institutions of Kosovo", and that this was a part of the strategy for northern Kosovo that was produced earlier this year by the government in Priština, and the International Civilian Office (ICO).

Both Serbs in northern Kosovo and official Belgrade rejected these plans when they were announced.