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Arrests in Yugoslavia Shooting

June 17, 2000

BUDVA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Police here have arrested suspects they say trailed a top opponent of Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic out of Serbia and tried to gun him down in Montenegro.

Vuk Draskovic accused Milosevic on Friday of attempting to ``liquidate″ him after the attackers opened fire on him through the window of his seaside home hours earlier. Draskovic was grazed on his head by bullets.

Montenegro’s deputy interior minister, Vuk Boskovic, said Friday that suspects had been arrested in the attack, but refused to identify them or say how many were in custody.

Boskovic would not say who was responsible for the attack but said the assailants ``followed Draskovic all the way from Serbia with a murderous intention.″

``We arrested perpetrators of this crime,″ Boskovic said. ``We seized their weapons. We arrested people who helped them and we know who ordered the crime.″

The attack raised tensions between Montenegro and Serbia, which together make up the Yugoslav federation. Montenegro pursues a pro-Western policy under its president, Milo Djukanovic, who broke with Milosevic two years ago. As a result, Montenegro has enjoyed virtual independence from the Serb-led federal government in Belgrade.

Draskovic, his head bandaged from his wounds, made clear who he thought was responsible for the shooting.

``This was definitely organized by Serbia’s state security,″ Draskovic said. ``It is also definitely certain that another decision on my liquidation could not have been reached without the knowledge of those who run the country. And in this case, it is Slobodan Milosevic and his wife.″

There was no statement from the Yugoslav federal government. The state-run Tanjug news agency, however, said Milosevic’s allies in Montenegro urged authorities to find the assailants ``to prevent speculations and cheap political trickery.″

Draskovic was alone watching television when the attackers sprayed gunfire into his living room around midnight Thursday.

The 54-year-old opposition firebrand usually has his own security, but his four regular bodyguards were arrested by Serbian police two weeks ago for illegal weapons possession. Draskovic’s wife Danica said her husband turned down an offer of protection by Montenegrin police.

``This is a monstrous conspiracy,″ Montenegro’s police chief, Vukasin Maras, said. He accused Belgrade of trying to export ``state terrorism″ to the maverick republic.

The attack also drew international condemnation. The European Union’s foreign and security policy chief, Javier Solana, said it ``illustrates the sad state of political affairs″ in a country ``where the use of brute force″ has become a standard method for ``settling political differences.″

In a letter to Draskovic, Russia’s foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, also condemned the ``terrorist attack″ which he said ``threatens the process of democratization in Yugoslavia.″

The incident was the latest in a series of attacks against prominent figures in Yugoslavia. In one of the attacks, Goran Zugic, the Montenegrin president’s national security adviser, was gunned down in front of his home in Podgorica on May 31.

Draskovic survived a road accident in October in which three party associates, including his brother-in-law, were killed. Draskovic suffered only minor injuries but called the incident _ a head-on collision with a truck which swerved off its lane _ an assassination attempt and blamed Milosevic.

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