Teenager's drive-by murder raises fears of turmoil in Kosovo

Hundreds of outraged Serbs gathered yesterday in the village of Gracanica in Kosovo to protest against the murder of a Serb teenager amid fears of more ethnic turmoil in the United Nations-governed territory.

Hundreds of outraged Serbs gathered yesterday in the village of Gracanica in Kosovo to protest against the murder of a Serb teenager amid fears of more ethnic turmoil in the United Nations-governed territory.

UN police announced they had detained two Kosovo Albanians in connection with the drive-by shooting of 17-year-old Dimitrije Popovic in Gracanica, near Pristina. Ms Popovic was buried yesterday.

The protesters demanded an end to random attacks on Kosovo's tiny Serb community, already trapped in isolated "enclaves", and threatened to resume road blocks of vital highways - a move bound to inflame tension with Kosovo's restive Albanian majority.

The latest controversy will play well in Serbia with the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, whose candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, is on course to do well, and perhaps win, Serbia's presidential election on 13 June.

Moderate Serbian parties also used the incident to condemn the UN's administration of Kosovo - in place since Nato ousted Serb forces in 1999 - and to attack the retiring UN chief in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri.

Milan Ivanovic, the leader of the Serbian National Council for North Kosovo, a lobby group, told Belgrade's Radio B92 that the killing was "one more systematic and organised crime committed against Serbian children". The remark referred to the brutal shooting dead by an Albanian gunman of two young Serbs swimming in a river in the south-western enclave of Gorazdevac last August.

While protesters in Gracanica demanded that the UN take action to stop Albanian attacks, there is little they can do short of sealing off the remaining enclaves entirely behind barbed wire and watchtowers.

The Serb threat to resume road blocks on the main highway connecting Pristina to neighbouring Macedonia, meanwhile, is likely to raise tensions even further. After Serbs in nearby Caglavica blocked the main road in mid-March in protest against an earlier non-fatal drive-by shooting, Albanian nationalists stormed into the enclave to dissolve the road block by force.

The two days of chaos that followed saw Serb churches and houses burned not only in Caglavica but all over Kosovo. The riots dealt a severe blow to the UN's prestige in Kosovo, not to mention its stated goal of recreating a multicultural society. Mr Holkeri resigned shortly afterwards, citing ill health.

As well as drawing attention to the ailing state of the UN administration, known as Unmik, the latest killing will focus minds on the shadowy Albanian extremist groups which encourage random attacks on Serbs.

Rejecting the Kosovo Albanian establishment's deference towards the UN authorities, these hardliners, composed often of disgruntled veterans of the guerrilla war with the Serbs in the 1990s, have an interest in keeping the racial temperature high, to wean the moderate majority over to their views.

Mainstream Albanian leaders are aware that continued violence has damaged their credibility and delayed their chances of securing an independent state in Kosovo, the cherished goal of all the Albanians.

Keen to drawn a sharp line between themselves and the extremists, Bajram Redzepi, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, insisted on Saturday that all those responsible for the killing would be brought to justice.

On a similar note, President Ibrahim Rugova, veteran leader of the independence struggle against Serbia, warned that such acts "were directed against the future independence of our country".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Circles South East Youth Service: Youth Services Volunteer

this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £30,000+

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading privately owned sp...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is require...

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Supervisor

£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn