By Linda Karadaku
As students in Pristina lit candles to commemorate the victims, Kosovo’s leaders on Wednesday (March 2nd) condemned a shooting incident at Frankfurt Airport that left two US airmen dead and injured two others.
Arid Uka, a 21-year-old who is reported to be a Frankfurt Airport employee, allegedly opened fire on a bus carrying the airmen. German prosecutors say they are looking into Islamic extremism as a possible motive, and media reports indicated the gunman may have shouted religious slogans before launching his attack.
Uka has family connections to Kosovo — reports say that Uka’s grandfather was from the village of Zhabar, near Mitrovica.
Kosovo President Behgjet Pacolli expressed his “deep sorrow” over the incident, and extended his condolences to the American people, army, authorities and the families of the victims.
“The people of Kosovo condemn in the harshest terms this evil, individual act … carried out against people in a military uniform who had an essential role in Kosovo’s liberation, against the army which has a key role in preserving security and stability all over the world,” he said in a press release.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his cabinet echoed those words.
“This macabre case is an individual act against the values of civilisation and against the tradition of the people of Kosovo, which will always and eternally be grateful to the United States of America, to the American people and the United States government for the powerful support it has given to the people of Kosovo during the process of freedom, independence and now, for the development and the integration of Kosovo,” an official statement said.
Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, who joined University of Pristina students as they lit candles in front of the city’s National Theatre, said “the one who committed such an act is a criminal in the eyes of the Kosovo citizens and in no way represents [their] beliefs.”
Koha Movement, a youth NGO based in Mitrovica, held a ceremony there and condemned the incident.
“We strongly condemn this criminal act as citizens of Kosovo and young people of Kosovo. This is not reflective of our people,” said the group’s leader, Ferdi Kadriu. Reaction among the public was one of shock. “Crazy man … he is crazy,” said Mensur, a young man in Pristina who spoke to SETimes.
“It’s so bad for us, and our image,” said Artana, a young mother walking with her children in the capital.
In Washington, meanwhile, President Barack Obama said he was “saddened and outraged” by the attack.
“I want everybody to understand that we will spare no effort in learning how this outrageous act took place and in working with German authorities to ensure that all of the perpetrators are brought to justice,” he said.