Explosion at shopping mall in Kosovo kills two

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The Independent Online

A powerful blast ripped through several shops in Kosovo's capital yesterday morninig, killing two people and injuring nine others, officials said.

Authorities said the attack was criminal and Kosovo's government said it was not related to the UN-mediated negotiations on the province's demands for independence from Serbia.

It was one of the most powerful explosions to have rocked Kosovo's capital Pristina since the end of war in 1999. NATO peacekeepers and United Nations police sealed off the area and combed the ruins in search for any other explosive devices. None was found.

The explosion happened around 2:30am in a shopping mall in the center of Pristina. Police said the blast was caused by an explosive device.

The blast sent chunks of metal and shattered glass flying for dozens of meters around Pristina's central Bill Clinton boulevard. It destroyed four shops and brought down part of the building.

All the victims were taken to a hospital, police spokesman Veton Elshani said. One was in critical condition. Initially police reported 10 injured, but they later lowered the official toll to nine.

"There is no indication it was ethnically or politically motivated," Elshani said.

At least one of the victims is believed to have been a passer-by, while others were in a coffee shop a few hours before beginning the daily fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Kosovo's President, Fatmir Sejdiu said the attack threatened Kosovo's stability and called for the culprits to be found.