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UN, EU Officials Outraged at Apparent Attack on Kosovo President


The United Nations administrator in Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana Tuesday expressed shock at the morning attack apparently aimed at Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova.

Mr. Rugova's motorcade was en route to a meeting with Mr. Solana when a bomb exploded in a trash container, blowing out store windows and damaging Mr. Rugova's car. While the president was not injured, two people did sustain minor injuries from flying glass. Police say the explosive device was probably detonated by remote control.

Mr. Rugova expressed relief that for the second time in a year he had again escaped assassination. The 60-year-old pacifist president leads a pro-independence party that is the largest in the Kosovo assembly. Mr. Rugova said the blast shows that there are still people who seek to destabilize Kosovo. Tensions have been high here for the past week since the former prime minister was charged with war crimes by the Hague tribunal.

U.N. administrator Jessen-Petersen told reporters he had telephoned President Rugova to express his outrage at the attack.

"It is clear that such acts do not have the support of the larger population of Kosovo and it is clear that such acts will not succeed in derailing stated progress towards implementation of standards and the move towards talks on final status later this year," he said.

Mr. Jessen-Petersen is the de facto governor of the U.N. administered territory. During his six months on the job the Danish diplomat is credited with speeding up the shift of power to Kosovar authorities and with energizing a sluggish U.N. bureaucracy.

Mr. Jessen-Petersen and Mr. Solana are urging President Rugova to act quickly in naming a new prime minister. Kosovo's popular prime minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned seven days ago and voluntarily surrendered to authorities in the Netherlands. On Monday the former guerrilla leader appeared before the tribunal and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and forced deportation, crimes allegedly committed during the ethnic Albanian insurgency against Serbian rule in 1998 and 1999.

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