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Do Serbs 'Invent' Terrorists?

Case of Adrian Krasniqi, killed by police in Kosovo, raises questions

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For more than a month, the men of this remote farming village have spent languid afternoons huddled around a wood-burning heater, trying to piece together the life and death of Adrian Krasniqi.

Mr. Krasniqi, part of a 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority in the Serbian province of Kosovo, was killed by police Oct. 10 during what officials say was a guerrilla attack on a police station.

The Serbian government alleges that Krasniqi was a soldier in the Kosovo Liberation Army, a mysterious rebel faction that calls for independence from Serbia and possible unification with Albania. Officials say the rebels have been responsible for 42 deaths - Serbian and Albanian - since 1990. Thirty-five ethnic Albanians have been jailed for involvement with the paramilitary group.

Krasniqi, the government says, may have been smuggling arms from Albania to prepare his people for a secessionist war.

But to the villagers in Krasniqi's hometown of Vranoc, the events surrounding his death make little sense.

Police photographed Krasniqi lying dead with a grenade in one hand and a machine gun in the other. Yet no police officers were reported injured and the station remains intact.

"They call him a terrorist," says Krasniqi's uncle, Xhafer Krasniqi. "But where are the victims of his attacks?"

Many ethnic Albanians, as well as Western diplomats, agree that individual terrorists may be lurking in the woods. But they are not convinced that there is an organized resistance movement.

"There probably are instances where terrorism has occurred," says one Western diplomat. "But some of these events are being staged by Serbian authorities."

According to Edita Tahiri, the foreign affairs secretary for the ethnic Albanian political party, the Serbian government may be fabricating terrorist acts to justify police crackdowns in villages near the Albanian border.

"It is the aim of the Serbs to dismantle the peaceful movement of Albanians [in Kosovo]," she says. "It justifies their attacks and makes us look bad to the international community."

People calling themselves leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army have claimed responsibility for attacks, but observers say such communications could easily have been faked.

According to a second Western diplomat, Serbian state radio reported one terrorist attack days before it supposedly happened.

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