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EU police officer gunned down in Kosovo

Killing marks first EU fatality in Kosovo since force took over security five years ago.

EulexdeathkosovoEnlarge
Kosovo and EULEX policemen secure the perimeter where two EULEX vehicles came under fire near the town of Zvecan on September 19, 2013. Gunmen shot dead a member of the European Union's police force in Kosovo's flashpoint northern region, in the first deadly attack on the mission since its creation five years ago. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

BELGRADE, Serbia — A European Union (EU) officer was killed when unknown attackers opened fire on a staff car in northern Kosovo early Thursday.

The EULEX mission in Kosovo, which has been responsible for security there since 2008, said the victim's car "came under fire from unknown persons."

The incident took place near the volatile, ethnically mixed northern town of Mitrovica, home to both Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, said Reuters.

The victim, identified by the BBC as a Lithuanian customs officer with a wife and kids, sustained several bullet wounds and died later in the hospital.

His death is a first for the EULEX mission in Kosovo, according to an official cited by the BBC.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton condemned "in the strongest possible terms the attack that led to the death of the staff member."

"The perpetrators must be brought to justice," she said in a Thursday statement

EULEX called the killing an "act of cowardly violence" and has opened a murder investigation.

Tensions have reportedly been rising in the area over EU integration plans for minority Serbs, most of whom live in Kosovo's north.

Majority-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, angering Belgrade.

However, in April Serbia and Kosovo agreed to an EU-led plan to normalize relations, said the BBC.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/130919/eu-police-officer-gunned-down-kosovo