Kosovan President escapes explosion

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The Kosovan President, Ibrahim Rugova, survived an apparent assassination attempt after a device detonated as his convoy of vehicles passed in Pristina yesterday.

The Kosovan President, Ibrahim Rugova, survived an apparent assassination attempt after a device detonated as his convoy of vehicles passed in Pristina yesterday.

A day earlier, the former Kosovan prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, had pleaded not guilty at The Hague to war crimes against Serbs, after surrendering to the tribunal.

President Rugova was on his way to meet Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, for talks over the future status of Kosovo, which is under UN administration and remains part of Serbia and Montenegro.

Having escaped unhurt, he told reporters: "Unfortunately, there are still people who want to destabilise Kosovo." A police source said the explosion in a dustbin was detonated remotely. The armoured rear window of the Kosovo Albanian leader's vehicle was shattered but not pierced.

A senior Nato source said it was probably a warning. "Whoever committed this was either stupid, in not thinking he'd be in an armoured car, or has done it to show there could be a next time."

Nicknamed the "Ghandi of the Balkans" for his advocacy of pacifist resistance to direct rule by Serbia, President Rugova was re-elected President last December.

The attack yesterday has led to further fears that the temporary post-war settlement in Kosovo is unravelling. The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo wants independence but Serbia fiercely opposes it. A thousand extra Nato peacekeepers have been deployed.

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