Missing Kosovo politician found dead

DOBROSIN, Aug 7, 2000 -- (AFP) A senior member of Kosovo's leading ethnic Albanian political party has been found dead 10 days after his family reported him kidnapped, an UN police spokesman said Sunday.

The body of Shaban Manaj, a member of Ibrahim Rugova's Kosovo Democratic League (LDK), was found on Saturday in the village of Ozrim, nine miles (15 kilometers) from his home in Istok, northwest Kosovo, Stepien Andriej told AFP.

Police have opened a murder investigation, UN spokeswoman Claire Trevena said.

"The body was found in a deserted part of the village and had been burned. Forensic teams are examining it today," she added.

A wave of political violence appears to be sweeping Kosovo in the run-up to October municipal elections, and LDK members have been its most frequent victims.

On Wednesday last week, unidentified gunmen shot and injured Sejdi Koci, the leader of the LDK in Srbica, also in northwest Kosovo. This attack followed a similar shooting the day before which left Agim Veliu, LDK leader in Podujevo, northeast Kosovo, slightly injured.

Following the latest attacks, Kosovo's UN administration on Thursday announced it was to set up a cell of UN officials, police investigators, peacekeeping troops and OSCE election monitors to examine the problem of political violence.

The KFOR multinational peacekeeping force also announced last week that it hoped to send an additional 2,000 troops to Kosovo to oversee security in the run-up to the poll.

October's elections will be the first fully democratic poll ever held in Kosovo. Voters will choose local administrations in the province's 30 municipality.

Polls conducted by the OSCE in the province earlier this year suggested that the LDK will come out well ahead in voting, with their nearest rivals likely to be the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of Hashim Thaci, the former political leader of the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army.

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