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 celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before