Podujevo bus bombing
|Podujevo bus bombing|
|Location||near Podujevo, Kosovo, Serbia, FR Yugoslavia|
|Date||16 February 2001|
The Podujevo bus bombing was an attack on a civilian bus in a Serb-populated area near the town of Podujevo in Kosovo on 16 February 2001. Orchestrated by ethnic Albanians, the bombing killed twelve Serb civilians who were travelling to the Gračanica monastery and injured dozens more.
Gračanica is a predominantly Serb-populated town in central Kosovo, near the regional capital Pristina, in a predominantly Albanian-populated area. Following the Kosovo War in 1999 it became an enclave within Albanian-controlled territory. Relations between the two communities were tense and occasionally violent.
On 16 February 2001, a bus carrying Serb civilians on a "commemoration mission" to family graves in Albanian-controlled territory was destroyed by a roadside bomb at a spot near Podujevo, en route to Gračanica. It was one in a convoy of five buses carrying 250 people from the city of Niš, escorted by armoured personnel carriers from the Swedish contingent of the KFOR peacekeeping force. According to KFOR's regional commander, the bomb was made of 100–200 pounds of high explosive, detonated using a command wire.
Of the 56 passengers on the bus, twelve were killed and all the remainder were very seriously injured, along with several bystanders and passengers on other buses who were hit by shrapnel from the blast. The final death toll took some time to establish due to difficulties in identifying the number of bodies. Amongst the dead were the bus staff and two children, as well as several women.
The relief operation and investigation was undertaken by British and Ukrainian peacekeeping units. Six other bombs were discovered and defused nearby. The local KFOR commander, British Brigadier Robert Fry, conferred with both Serbian and Kosovar leaders, and although there were protests in the town following the blast, they were largely peaceful. The blast had angered Serbian officials and the community, who had endured numerous attacks by Kosovar Albanians in recent months. They demanded that the UCPMB stop its attacks, and that KFOR do a better job of monitoring the situation in the future.
Five Albanian men were arrested for the attack, but they were not charged with anything. Four men were later suspected of committing the attack, but they escaped from a U.S. detention facility in 2002 and have not since been charged with any crime.
On 5 June 2009, EULEX's chief prosecutor announced that the EU mission has opened a new inquest into the case that had be given to the special prosecutor's office in charge of war crimes cases.
- BBC News
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- Jennings, Christian (28 March 2001). "SAS troops seize Kosovo bomb suspects". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "Ruthless murder of Serbs on road to family graves", The Birmingham Post, 17 February 2001
- 'Panel frees Albanian jailed for Kosovo bus bombing' R
- "New probe into 2001 bus bombing". B92. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2012.