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Serbian President Survives Apparent Assassination Attempt

Serbia's police are investigating reports that Serbian President Boris Tadic has survived an assassination attempt. Mr. Tadic's office said a car tried to crash into his vehicle in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

In a statement, the presidential office said the official car carrying President Boris Tadic was attacked late Tuesday as it was driving on central Belgrade's Kneza Milosa Street.

Mr. Tadic was not injured in the incident, but his office added that one vehicle in the presidential convoy was heavily damaged. It explained a late model Audi attempted to run into the president's car several times and ignored the sirens and rotating lights on his escort cars.

Mr. Tadic's office said that following physical contact with one of the escort cars the attacking Audi quickly accelerated and sped off in an unknown direction. An official of the presidential office told VOA Mr. Tadic's staff is awaiting the outcome of a police investigation.

No arrests have been made.

A group calling itself the Serbian Patriotic Organization reportedly made death threats last week against President Boris Tadic and Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic.

The country director of the Belgrade-based independent Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Dragana Nikolic-Solomon says the attack may have been motivated by Mr. Tadic's support for Serbia's cooperation with the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

"I have sources close to the state security [and they] think that this attack on [Mr.] Tadic was very much in connection with his recent pro-Hague rhetoric," she said, " and with his recent call to the government that if they can't start cooperating with The Hague and start gearing this country into Europe. I can actually say that this may be an attempt to silence pro-Hague speakers in the country."

She adds the incident resembles an attack on Serbia's first non-Communist prime minister since World War II, Zoran Djindjic. Though that attack failed, he was killed in another attack last year.

Nationalists had criticized Mr. Djindjic for transferring former President Slobodan Milosevic on war crimes charges to the U.N. court.

Belgrade has been under international pressure to arrest other war crimes suspects who are believed to be in hiding in Serbia and Montenegro.

Chief U.N. prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has repeatedly claimed that Bosnian-Serb General Ratko Mladic is hiding in Serbia under the protection of elements of the Serbian military.

Belgrade has denied it has any knowledge of the whereabouts of Mr. Mladic. He has been linked to Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Up to 8,000 Muslims were killed there by Serb forces in 1995.

About 20 war crimes suspects, including four senior Serbian generals, are believed to be at large in Serbia, the largest of six Balkan republics which made up the former socialist federation of Yugoslavia.