Panda Bar massacre
|Panda Bar massacre|
|Location||Peć, Kosovo, FR Yugoslavia|
Night of 14 December 1998 |
9 PM (UTC+1)
|Perpetrators||Allegedly Kosovo Liberation Army|
The Panda Bar massacre or Panda Café attack (Serbian: напад на кафић „Панда”) was a terrorist attack carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against Serbian civilians in the city of Peć in north-western Kosovo,[a] on the night of 14–15 December 1998. Two masked men opened fire into a coffee bar, killing six young Serb men, five of whom were teenagers, and wounding 15. On 14 December Serbian police ambushed KLA smuggling weapons and supplies from Albania. The Panda Bar attack appeared as a reprisal, and broke the brief cease-fire between the Albanian and Serbian forces during the Kosovo War. The KLA did not accept responsibility.
Within hours of the border ambush, the KLA vowed revenge. That evening, suspected KLA gunmen entered a Serb-owned café in Peć and opened fire on the patrons, killing six Serb youths. The victims were a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old, three 17-year-olds and one 25-year-old.[b] Western diplomats suspected that the attack was carried out by the KLA in retribution for the ambush. The KLA denied responsibility; the journalist Tim Judah suggests that the attack may have been carried out by a rogue unit.
The shooting appalled foreign emissaries, and at a meeting with Milošević the following day, Holbrooke condemned it as an act of terrorism and described the situation in Kosovo as "very grave". Milošević issued a separate statement accusing the international community of failing to prevent attacks on Serb civilians, stating: "The terrorist gangs have not ceased attacking the army, the police, and inhabitants of Kosovo."
The attack led to an immediate crackdown on the Albanian-populated southern quarters of Peć – Kapešnica and Zatra. The area was sealed off, and houses were searched systematically. Media reports stated that Serbian police killed two Kosovo Albanians during the operation. The OSCE later made a report on the event and its aftermath, calling it the Panda Bar incident. Several Albanians were arrested and found guilty of the crime. They were released one month after sentencing with the intermediation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Several of them were tortured in prison according to Albanian newspapers. The grave stones of the victims have been destroyed.
An investigation was started in 2011. Lately, Serbian newspapers have reported claims of both foreign and Serbian special forces involvement, which has been denied, but later on confirmed by the Serbian government.[c]
- ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.
- ^ The victims were Ivan Obadović (14 years old), Vukota Gvozdenović (16), Svetislav Ristić (17), Zoran Stanojević (17), Dragan Trifović (17) and university student Ivan Radević (25). Gvozdenović, Ristić, Stanojević and Trifović were highly graded students of the Sveti Sava gymnasium in Peć. The father of Radević was a half year later kidnapped and murdered by Albanians.
- ^ Serbian newspaper Kurir reported on 17 January 2014 that a source close to the Serbian government claimed that Radomir Marković, the war-time head of State Security Service, offered evidence to the government that the attack was carried out by the organization of Milorad Ulemek (Legija). The source claimed that it was made in order for the KLA to appear as a terrorist organisation. At the same time, the source said, that Legija alleged that it was in fact Radomir Marković who ordered and had the attack carried out.[unreliable source?] Earlier, claims had been made that the MI6 or SAS had carried out the attack, which Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić denied, and said that "There are strange things [connected to it] and it is very difficult to speak about it today. When we have more details, we will inform the public about them". Minister of Law Nikola Selaković stated that Kurir's claims were mere speculations.
- Landis & Albert 2012, p. 356, Aertsen et al. 2013, p. 83
- NIN: nedeljne informativne novine. Politika. March 2007.
- RTS 14 December 2015.
- Aertsen et al. 2013, p. 83.
- Holbrooke and Hill.
- Kosovo: the road to war Archived October 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Bellamy 2002, p. 112.
- Landis & Albert 2012, p. 356.
- "Serb murder in Kosovo condemned". BBC. December 18, 1998. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- Judah 2002, p. 191.
- Guy Dinmore (December 15, 1998). "Kosovo Cease-fire Is Jeopardized By Killing Of 30 Rebels". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
- Judah 2002, p. 192.
- "Grave differences over Kosovo". BBC. December 16, 1998. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
- "Human Rights in Kosovo: As Seen, As Told, 1999". OSCE report. OSCE. Archived from the original on 2014-10-15.
- "OSCE report" (PDF). OSCE. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-14.
- KTV Lajmet. KTV. 22 January 2014.
- Politika 13 December 2008.
- Novosti; Tanjug; Blic.
- "Rade Marković dao nalog da se ubiju srpska deca u Peći 1998?!". Beograd: Kurir.
- "Selaković: Navodi Kurira su spekulacije". Blic.
- Bellamy, A. (2002). Kosovo and International Society. Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 978-0-230-59760-0.
- Landis, Dan; Albert, Rosita D. (2012). Handbook of Ethnic Conflict: International Perspectives. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 356–. ISBN 978-1-4614-0447-7.
- Ivo Aertsen; Jana Arsovska; Holger-C Rohne; Marta Valiñas; Kris Vanspauwen (2013). Restoring Justice after Large-scale Violent Conflicts. Routledge. pp. 83–. ISBN 1-134-00623-3.
- Newspaper articles
- Politika (13 December 2008). "Десет година од убиства српских младића у Пећи". Politika.
- RTS (14 December 2015). "Годишњица убиства српских младића у Пећи". RTS.
- Novosti; Tanjug; Blic. "ISTINA SE KRIJE 19 GODINA Kobne noći dvojica maskiranih muškaraca ušli su u kafe "Panda" i izrešetali rafalima šestoricu SRPSKIH MLADIĆA". Blic.
- "Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Ambassador Christopher Hill, Round-table discussion with representatives of the Serbian independent media, Belgrade, Serbia, December 15, 1998". Massachusetts: Mount Holyoke College International Relations Program.