Germans say anti-EU faction bombed Kosovo office

24th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

The three Germans initially arrested were undercover agents tasked with protecting EU influence.


Berlin -- A bomb attack in Pristina, which led to the arrest of three German agents conducting an inquiry, was the work of an anti-EU faction of Kosovans, the German newspaper Bild reported Sunday.

It said senior German Foreign Ministry officials had won an assurance from the Kosovo government Friday that there would be no objection to releasing the trio arrested two days earlier.

But the faction opposed to European Union supervision of the new state won the upper hand on Saturday, when the men were committed to 30 days of investigative custody, the German newspaper reported.

German media have reported that the three Germans were undercover agents tasked with protecting EU influence, and that they were arrested while hunting for clues to the real attackers.

Der Spiegel news magazine said the trio insisted they had only been inspecting the site of the blast five days earlier.

German news media treated with incredulity claims in Belgrade that the agents had been helping Albanian crime gangs.

Bild said the anti-EU faction in Pristina was trying to pin the attack on foreign interference.

It quoted German security services saying the trio had definitely not planted the bomb, nor aided the bombers.

The German external-intelligence agency BND and the government in Berlin have declined substantive comment on the arrests of the men, ages 41 to 47.

Sources told DPA that the men's employer, Logistic Coordination Assessment Services, which ostensibly advises investors on opportunities in Kosovo, was a BND front company.

Bild said the men's arrest was evidence of a power struggle in the political elite in Kosovo, where most of the population is ethnic Albanians. Germany recognizes Kosovo, which broke away from Serbia.

Kosovo declared independence in February.

Berlin suspected ethnic Albanian extremists opposed to international tutelage planted the bomb near the offices of Eulex, the EU agency that is to supervise 2,000 police, judges and civil servants from Western Europe, Bild said.

The EU mission is due to take over the oversight of law enforcement in Kosovo after its more than eight years as a United Nations protectorate.

News reports said the three Germans had been observed by Kosovo intelligence agents after three earlier attacks on institutions in Pristina.

The BND, which inspired awe when set up in the 1950s by officers with Second World War experience, has admitted blunders in recent years including surveillance of German journalists.

Pristina, Belgrade, the UN and EU are currently wrangling over the conditions for the deployment of Eulex.

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