Saturday, November 27, 2004

Prominent Kosovo businessman wounded in an ambush

Assailants ambushed and wounded a prominent Kosovo businessman in the western part of the province, a police official said Saturday.

Ekrem Lluka, a wealthy ethnic Albanian businessman, was in a car with an associate and a driver when the vehicle was sprayed with bullets near the city of Pec, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Kosovo's capital, Pristina, said Zeqir Kelmendi, a police spokesman.

Lluka received wounds to his legs and was treated at a city hospital, but his condition was not life threatening, Kelmendi said. The other two people in the car escaped unharmed.

The shooting was being investigated by a serious crimes unit, but police have made no arrests.

Lluka, at times a controversial figure, owns businesses including an insurance company, a printing house and local television and radio stations.

Recently, a venture involving him, other Kosovo businessmen and the Slovenian cell phone company Mobitel was declared the winner of a highly disputed bid to become the second provider of cell phone operator in the province.

That process was canceled by Kosovo's U.N. administration after it was contested by province's prime minister and the U.S. officials in Kosovo, who raised concerns about possible misconduct in the bidding process.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since June 1999, following a NATO air war to stop Serb forces from cracking down on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

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