Top UN official in Kosovo condemns failed rocket attack on bus traveling to Belgrade

Kosovo's top U.N. official ordered police Sunday to increase patrols throughout the province after unknown assailants fired an explosive projectile into a bus carrying 11 passengers to Belgrade, a statement said.

The weapon did not explode, and no one was injured, said the statement from Soren Jessen-Petersen, who condemned the attack, which occurred late Saturday near southern town of Prizren. The projectile was fired from the side of the road, struck the middle of the bus and stopped in the passenger compartment without exploding.

NATO peacekeepers defused the projectile, a U.N. statement said. It did not specify the type of weapon.

Jessen-Petersen linked the attack with the start of the talks on Kosovo's disputed future status.

"Incidents such as the one last night demonstrate that, during the status process which has just begun, isolated individuals or groups who do not have Kosovo's best interests in mind may attempt to disrupt Kosovo's way forward for their own ulterior motives," he said in a statement. "Such ill-intentioned individuals must be isolated, identified and brought to justice," he added.

Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority and Serb minority, is entering a delicate phase with talks on its future political status, which are likely to increase tensions in the deeply polarized region. There are fears extremists could try to disrupt the U.N.-sponsored negotiations on whether the province becomes independent state as demanded by ethnic Albanians or remains a self-governing part of Serbia.

Serbia's officials also condemned the attack but blamed the U.N. mission in Kosovo for failing to protect adequately the Serbs in the province from what they said was Albanian-inspired violence.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations and patrolled by NATO-led peacekeepers since 1999, following the alliance's bombing of Serb forces to stop a crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians, AP reported. V.A.

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