Five ethnic Albanians killed in roadside ambush

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The Independent Online

Gunmen sprayed a car with bullets in a roadside ambush, killing five members of an ethnic Albanian family, UN spokesmen reported on Tuesday.

The victims were traveling in a car on Monday night in central Kosovo, some 12 miles west of Pristina when their car was blocked and sprayed with bullets.

The youngest victim was 9 years old and the oldest was about 50.

UN sources said a sixth passenger, a 16­year­old girl, survived the shooting. She was transported to a hospital, but no further details were released.

According to ethnic Albanian sources, who requested anonymity, one victim, Hamza Hajra, 50, had worked for Serb police in Kosovo, the southernmost province of Serbia, which is the larger republic in Yugoslavia.

Serb forces launched a harsh crackdown on the province's ethnic Albanian majority, which ended after 2 1/2 months of NATO air strikes in 1999. Since then, the province has been under NATO and UN control.

UN police sealed off the area and are trying to determine a motive for the attack, said UN police spokesman Andreas Graf.

Graf described the attack as one of the most gruesome killings in the province in recent months because women and children were targeted.

The killings occurred in the Drenica Valley, an area inhabited solely by ethnic Albanians.