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Serbian president calls murder of top Kosovo Serb politician ‘terrorist attack’

Oliver Ivanovic’s murder is an attack on the Serbian people, the president stressed
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic  AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic
© AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos

BELGRADE, January 16. /TASS/. Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic condemned the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the Civic Initiative SDP (Freedom, Democracy, Justice), in northern Kosovo on Tuesday as a terrorist attack.

"The murder of Oliver Ivanovic is a terrorist attack. We will treat this as a terrorist attack," Vucic said in an address to the nation after a meeting of the country’s Security Council.

Ivanovic’s murder is an attack on the Serb people, he stressed. "The attack on Oliver Ivanovic is first of all, an attack on the Serbian people in the north of Kosovo and Metohija and second, it’s an attack on "all of Serbia," Vucic emphasized.

The Serbian leader said the authorities would carry out their own investigation into Ivanovic’s murder, vowing that the killers would be found. Vucic also said letters would be sent to the EU and UN missions in Kosovo (EULEX and UNMIK) with demands to allow Serbian authorities to join the investigation on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.

The assassination of the Kosovo Serb leader occurred on Tuesday as the politician was entering his party’s headquarters in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Local Prosecutor Shyqyri Syla said Ivanovic had been killed in a drive-by shooting. However, a party member said no one had heard any sound of shooting and a neighbor who was returning from shopping discovered the wounded politician. Police later found a burnt car without a license plate number, which the killers allegedly used.

The politician was taken to a hospital with five gunshot wounds to his chest. Doctors there tried to save his life, but to no avail.

In the wake of the killing, Marko Duric, who heads the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, said the Serb delegation was suspending its technical dialogue with Pristina in Brussels and returning to Belgrade.

Oliver Ivanovic, one of leaders of Kosovo Serbs, earlier served as the State Secretary of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija in the Serb government. In January 2016, he was sentenced to 9 years behind bars for alleged war crimes against Albanians in 1999. In February 2017, the Appeals Court in Pristina overturned the guilty verdict and ordered a new trial. Ivanovic was under house arrest and in April 2017 he was allowed to defend himself in court at liberty.