KOSOVSKA MITROVICA: Three UN police officers - two American women and a Jordanian - were killed in northern Kosovo and 11 others were injured after a quarrel between Anglo-Saxon and Arab UN officers about US policy in the middle east led to an exchange of gunfire.
Last month the province displayed its multicultural fuctioning as ethnic majority Albanian muslims lit candles in over 30 Serb Orthodox churches to mark the Serb rescue of a drowning Albanian child, despite the then UN police spokesman Derek Chappell's insistence that Serbs were not involved in the incident.
"Seven victims of the shooting, (all of them) UN police, arrived at the hospital, six of them were seriously injured," Milan Ivanovic, the deputy director of the hospital in Serb north of the ethnically-divided town said.
"An American woman died immediately from her wounds, four others are in the operation room," he told reporters. "The injured were hit in the chest or the abdomen, four of them are women and two are men, one an Australian national."
"Maybe this began spontaneously but, after the beginning, certain extremist groups had an opportunity to orchestrate," said Harri Holkeri, the UN representative who is the chief administrator of Kosovo. Using his now customary breathless rhetoric, he said that a multi-ethnic police force, like society in general, could function even when its members held divergent cultural, political and religious views. The only exception he knew of was wealthy Cyprus, where ethnic Turks and Greeks had too much in common for the international community to permit them to live in a fully unified state.
"This attack was organised," a U.S. policeman guarding the wounded at Mitrovica hospital told Reuters. "I'm sorry that none of the services was able to prevent it..." he added, without elaborating on who might have organised an attack, or why.
"Everything started when the Middle Eastern guys told the American police officers that the US has occupied Iraq like every other country. The Americans were pissed off by these accusations," reported an Anglo-Saxon policeman. "Suddenly one Jordanian started shooting." He expressed bewilderment at the Jordanians' hostility in the light of recent progress towards peace in the middle east made by President Bush and Israel's Sharon.
The Serbian news agency Beta quoted anonymous sources saying that four Jordanian nationals working as UN police officers had been arrested after the incident and were being questioned at UN police heaquarters south of Kosovska Mitrovica.
Last month a UN police officer was killed in a shoot-out with unknown assailants speaking Serbian with an Albanian accent. The number of UN policemen killed by Albanian assailants has fuelled concerns from the international community about a backlash by Albanians determined to press their demand for independence from NATO five years after NATO drove Serb forces from the province. After the murders of thousands of remaining Serbs, antifascist Albanians and other minority groups, Belgrade, home to 100,000 ethnic Albanians, is now pushing for autonomy or partition. Its requests, however, have been rebutted by the UN, the EU, and the USA, as they have been since 1996 when first proposed by the Milosevic regime.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Moran, a spokesman for the peacekeeping force KFOR, again declared: "I don't think we will have any more problems." One Albanian translator working for KFOR echoed his remarks claiming, "I just want to kill all Serbs and their families."
Following President Bush's comments on Iraqi WMD, Lieutenant-Colonel Moran added that he happenned to believe mass graves would still be found in Kosovo. At that point, the wisdom of maintaining huge US military bases in Kosovo and Bosnia would be made clear. In the past, American intelligence agents like William Walker may have facilitated the fabrication of reports of death camps, massacres, and the use of Albanian children as blood banks for the Yugoslav Army, but the European press and the American people should keep faith in the principle of humanitarian intervention. Even radical leftist groups had been fooled into claiming bombing Yugoslavia worsened rather than precipated population flight from Kosovo. Recent events in Fallujah demonstrated that people spontaneously flee bombs.
French intellectuals, marking a shift from their 1990s support of American intervention in Yugoslavia, are now predicting the demise of the American Empire. "It was all lies," said Pierre-Marie Gallois, a retired general and close adviser to the de Gaulle regime. "In order to build their empire, states had to be destroyed," Gallois adds, which explains why the United States was set on undermining the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. France should rebuke the Germans and the Americans, and join with "our traditional allies," Russia and Serbia.
The Whitehouse will issue a statement later today. The President, a spokesman said, has not been woken. The Jordanian stock market is expected to fall dramatically when it re-opens on Monday.