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Explosion damages Kosovo president's convoy

A police officer passes by a damaged vehicle in Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova's convoy in Pristina, Kosovo, on Tuesday, after an explosion struck the convoy. EPA via Sipa Press
/ Source: The Associated Press

An explosion detonated Tuesday morning as Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova’s convoy passed through central Pristina. At least one person was injured, and a vehicle in the president’s convoy was damaged.

An Associated Press reporter saw Rugova being transferred from one car to another after the blast. He appeared to be unharmed. The car sped away.

A police officer at the scene told the AP on condition of anonymity that the explosion appeared to have been caused by a remote controlled explosive device.

The windows of nearby shops were shattered and small roadside garbage bins were shredded; the bomb appeared to have been placed inside one of the bins. Shards of glass lay scattered in the street.

At least one person was injured by flying glass, police spokeswoman Sabrije Kamberi said.

Rugova had been heading toward a nearby government building for a meeting with European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana when the blast detonated.

Police and Italian peace keepers sealed off the site.

Rugova, a pacifist leader, was elected Kosovo’s president in 2002. He was re-elected in December last year when his party formed a coalition with the much smaller Alliance for the Future of Kosovo of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

Haradinaj resigned last week after being indicted by a U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands, for wartime atrocities allegedly committed against Serbs, Albanians and Gypsy civilians during the province’s 1998-99 war against Serb forces.

Haradinaj pleaded not guilty Monday to 37 counts of war crimes.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since 1999 following a NATO war aimed at stopping the crackdown of Serb forces on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

Last year, on March 12, a hand grenade was hurled at Rugova’s residence from a passing vehicle. That grenade exploded in the garden some three yards away from the house. Rugova and his family were not hurt; no suspects were ever caught.