AKI (Italy) - November 18, 2005

Pristina, 18 Nov. (AKI) - The self-proclaimed Army for the Independence of Kosovo (AIK) on Friday issued fresh threats to the international peackeeping institutions in Pristina, saying that Kosovo's capital was the seat of a "modern occupier". The mysterious paramilitary group had previously issued similar threats, saying it would declare a “state of war” if Kosovo's parliament didn’t proclaim the independence of the province, which has been under United Nations administration since 1999.

Kosovo's parliament, under pressure from the international community, at a session on Thursday stopped short of directly proclaiming independence, but adopted a resolution confirming "the political will of the people of Kosovo for an independent and sovereign state”. The parliament said it would “guarantee the confirmation of the political will of the Kosovo people for independence at a referendum”.

The talks on the final status of the province, whose Muslim-majority ethnic Albanians demand independence, are expected to get underway next week, when the chief UN negotiator, former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, is due in Pristina and Belgrade on the first leg of his “shuttle diplomacy” tour.

As the talks neared, international observers confirmed the presency of shady paramilitary groups in Kosovo, applying pressure on the local leaders and the international community to grant Kosovo independence, despite Belgrade's opposition. A police car was blown up in the centre of Pristina on Wednesday evening, and a truck full of construction material exploded at a market place in the town of Strpce on Thursday, injuring two people. Many more potential victims had a "miraculous escape" said local officials.

The international police chief in Kosovo, Kai Vitrup, described the incidents as “terrorist acts” committed by those who seek to obstruct the status talks and to “impose their own solution for the future status of Kosovo”.

The latest AIK threat, carried by Pristina's Albanian language media today, seemed to be directed primarily at the representatives of the United Nations administration (Unmik) and other international organisations. "Very likely, the city of Pristina, in which all institutions under the control of a modern’ occupier are located, will be the target of our liberation forces starting from Wednesday, 23 November,” an AIK statement said.

The operations would be carried out under the command of General Ozoni (obviously an assumed name), said the AIK, calling on members of the Kosovo police and Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), to join in the struggle. The police and KPC were recruited from the former Kosovo Liberation Army, which started a rebellion against Belgrade rule in 1998 that had led to NATO bombing and the withdrawal of Serbian forces from the province.

The statement appealed to Pristina inhabitants to “remain calm, because AIK forces are well prepared”. Unmik “won’t be able to put up a resistance to our operations, but will have to ask our forces for a corridor to escape in shame,” it said.

Copyright 2005 AKI
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