The Latest: Kosovo president condemns Serb leader’s shooting

MITROVICA, Kosovo/January 16, 2018 (AP)(STL.News) —The Latest on the shooting of a Serb politician in Kosovo (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has strongly denounced the killing of a Serb political leader in the northern city of Mitrovica.

Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the Citizens’ Initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice party was shot dead Tuesday morning by still-unknown assailants.

In a reaction on his Facebook page Thaci called on law enforcement authorities “to throw light as soon as possible on the circumstances of the death so that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

He also urged citizens in the north to cooperate with police.

___

11:25 a.m.

The talks between Serbia and Kosovo at the European Union have been suspended after the killing of Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic.

The 28-nation EU said it “strongly condemns the murder” and it expects authorities “to spare no effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the EU calls on all sides “to show calm and restraint.”

Talks between the two should have resumed on a technical level on Tuesday after they stopped in March last year when Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, then leader of the opposition Kosovo Future Alliance party, was detained in France pending a court decision whether he would be extradited to Serbia. He was released the following month.

___

11:20 a.m.

Kosovo police have officially confirmed the shooting death of Serb political leader Oliver Ivanovic.

A statement Tuesday described how Ivanovic was shot at 8:10 a.m. near his office in Sutjeska Street in the northern city of Mitrovica.

Ivanovic was taken to the hospital where doctors confirmed his death.

The statement adds that about an hour later an Opel Astra car was found burned out in another Mitrovica street, and police believe that it was used by the perpetrators.

The investigation is continuing.

___

11:15 a.m.

Serbian state television says that the country’s delegation has walked out of an EU-mediated dialogue with Kosovo leaders after the killing of a leading Serb politician in Kosovo.

The report said Tuesday that the Serbian team is on its way back to Belgrade from Brussels after unknown assailants shot and killed Oliver Ivanovic in Serb-held Mitrovica early Tuesday.

The killing is likely to heighten tensions in Kosovo amid attempts to normalize ties between the former foes. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has refused to recognize the split.

Some 10,000 people died during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo which ended after NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999.

___

11:05 a.m.

Doctors say that Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic received at least five gunshot wounds to his upper torso when shot by unknown assailants.

Milan Ivanovic, the head of Mitrovica hospital and who is not related to the politician, said Tuesday that doctors attempted to save Ivanovic but could do nothing.

Unknown assailants opened fire on Ivanovic outside the offices of his political party in an action that is likely to stir tensions in Kosovo almost exactly 10 years after it declared independence from Serbia.

The region has remained tense despite efforts by EU officials to mediate talks between Serbia and Kosovo leaders on normalizing ties. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

___

11 a.m.

A Serbian official says that the killing in Kosovo of a leading Serb politician is a “criminal act of terror” aimed at pushing the volatile region into chaos.

Marko Djuric, the Serbian government’s official dealing with Kosovo, said Tuesday that “whoever is behind this attack … whether they are Serb, Albanian or any other criminals, they must be punished.”

Djuric adds that the attack earlier Tuesday on Oliver Ivanovic in Mitrovica “is an attempt to push the Serbian people into chaos, to push Serbia into chaos.”

Kosovo remains tense, a decade after declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia does not recognize the split and EU-mediated talks have been underway in a bid to normalize ties.

About 10,000 people died in the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and Kosovo ethnic Albanian rebels.

___

10:55 a.m.

The Kosovo government has strongly denounced the slaying of a leading Serb politician in northern Mitrovica and says it consicers it to be a challenge to “the rule of law and efforts to establish the rule of law in the whole of Kosovo territory.”

The government issued a statement Tuesday following the death of Oliver Ivanovic, who was shot in the morning outside the offices of his Citizens’ Initiative party in the northern city of Mitrovica.

“Violence is unacceptable, without taking into consideration where it comes from and toward whom it is directed,” said the statement.

The government also invited all citizens to cooperate and urged law-enforcement institutions to seize the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

___

10:40 a.m.

Serbian state television says that President Aleksandar Vucic has called a top security meeting after the shooting death in Kosovo of a leading Serb politician.

Vucic also will address the public at 1200 GMT on Tuesday about the death of Oliver Ivanovic, who was shot Tuesday morning in Serb-held northern Mitrovica.

Media reports say that unknown assailants opened fire at Ivanovic outside the offices of his Citizens’ Initiative party in Mitrovica. Ivanovic’s lawyer, Nebojsa Vlajic, confirmed Ivanovic died of wounds sustained in the attack.

The attack is likely to heighten ethnic tensions in Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.

___

10:20 a.m.

The lawyer for leading Serb politician in northern Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic says he has been shot dead.

“Unfortunately, I wish it weren’t true, but doctors declared Oliver dead at 9:30 this morning,” Nebojsa Vlajic, Ivanovic’s lawyer confimed to The Associated Press by phone.

Serbian media reported that unknown assailants opened fire on Ivanovic in front of the offices of his Citizens’ Initiative Party.

The 64-year-old was one of the key politicians in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, a former Serbian province where tensions remain high a decade after it declared independence.

A Kosovo court convicted Ivanovic of war crimes during the 1998-99 war. That verdict was overturned and a retrial had been underway.

___

9:55 a.m.

Serbian media are reporting that a leading Serb politician in northern Kosovo, Oliver Ivanovic, has been shot.

There was no immediate confirmation by the police in Kosovo of the reported incident on Tuesday morning. Reports say unknown assailants opened fire on Ivanovic in front of the offices of his Citizens’ Initiative Party.

Serbia’s state television says that doctors are struggling to save Ivanovic’s life, while Vecernje Novosti daily reported that Ivanovic has died.

The 64-year-old is one of the key politicians in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, a former Serbian province where tensions remain high a decade after it declared independence.

A Kosovo court convicted Ivanovic of war crimes during the 1998-99 war. That verdict was overturned and a retrial is underway.

By Associated Press, published on STL.NEWS by St. Louis Media, LLC (J.S)