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Gunfire at Kosovo Prime Minister's Home, Suspect Arrested


Police in Kosovo say they have detained a teenager over his alleged involvement in a gun battle at the home of Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. Stefan Bos reports for VOA from Budapest that the government has condemned the violence as "an act against the rule of law" in the young Balkan state.

Police say they have arrested a 19-year-old ethnic Albanian man who was wounded in a shootout with security guards protecting Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his family. The suspect, whose name has not been released, was apparently found after his father tipped the authorities.

He is believed to be among several armed assailants who attempted Friday to enter the home of Mr. Thaci in the capital, Pristina.

Gunfire reportedly broke out when guards spotted one person trying to break into the two-story building from the balcony of the top floor. Mr. Thaci was not there at the time. His wife and son were at home, but officials say they were not hurt.

The attackers escaped. However at least one of them, apparently the detained teenager, was shot and injured. Television networks have been showing footage of bloodstains at the scene.

Speaking through an interpreter on France 24 Television, Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuqi has described the violence as an attack on Kosovo's rule of law and democratic institutions.

"The fact that someone has tried to hurt the prime minister and his family for whatever reason is not only criminal. It goes beyond any political hatred or impatience."

Prime Minister Thaci has condemned the assault on his family, but urged his citizens to remain calm.

The motive behind the attack is unclear. Investigators have quoted the suspect as saying he didn't knew it was the prime minister's house and that he "just wanted to steal something." Crime has been widespread in Kosovo.

Analysts point out that the attack comes at a time when Thaci's security is already an issue following his decision to declare predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo independent from Serbia last February.

That move has been opposed by Serbia and Kosovo's Serbian minority. In addition, relations between ethnic Albanian political parties in Kosovo have been marked by tensions and bitter rivalry.

Mr. Thaci heads an uneasy coalition government with the party of late pacifist President Ibrahim Rugova, once his main rival.

He is also at odds with former prime minister and rebel commander Ramush Haradinaj who was recently acquitted by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal of crimes committed during the Balkan wars in the 1990s.