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Moderate Leader: Serbs Face Attacks

August 7, 2000

GRACANICA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Kosovo Serbs who cooperate with international officials in the province may face attacks or assassination attempts from Slobodan Milosevic’s government, a moderate Serb leader said Sunday.

Father Sava Janjic, a leader of the Serb National Council, told reporters Sunday that he had informed NATO-led peacekeepers and U.N. officials who run the province of the fears.

``The Serb National Council has received confidential information from persons close to the regime that it is possible for us to expect attacks or even assassinations on our members,″ Janjic said, without elaborating.

The report comes amid increased tension between Belgrade and Kosovo’s internationally run administration ahead of Yugoslavia’s Sept. 24 elections. Last week, two Britons and two Canadians were captured by the Yugoslav army while returning to Kosovo from neighboring Montenegro. The Yugoslav army accused them of ``terrorist″ activity.

Western officials in the province said that given the increasing tensions in Yugoslavia, Sava’s allegations were plausible.

Belgrade lost control of Kosovo following NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign last June, when NATO-led troops arrived and Yugoslav forces pulled out. Since then, at least half of the Serbs here fled to Serbia, amid increased reprisal attacks from ethnic Albanians.

``The terror from the (Belgrade) regime is worse than from the Albanians,″ said Janjic after meeting 103 local Serb leaders at this 14th century Orthodox monastery five miles southeast of Pristina.

For fear of retribution, Serbs live in enclaves guarded by NATO-led peacekeepers who escort them when they leave their homes.

Also on Sunday, a U.N. spokeswoman said the badly burned body of an ethnic Albanian politician was found in a village in northwestern Kosovo and that U.N. police are treating it as murder, although she declined to speculate on possible motives for the killing.

Shaban Manaj, a lawyer and a politician from the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo went missing two weeks ago, said Claire Trevena.

His body was found in a deserted part of the village of Ozrim 37 miles northwest of Pristina on Friday, and identified Saturday by his wife and dental records.

Manaj was from the western Kosovo town of Klina and was to run in municipal elections scheduled for October.

It was the third case of violence directed against members of the Democratic League of Kosovo in less than a week.

Party leader Ibrahim Rugova, a pacifist, has condemned the attacks, saying that the forces behind them are against democratic elections and stability in Kosovo.

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