Explosion at House of Kosovo Government Official Likely Caused by Bomb

An explosion at the house of a senior advisor to Kosovo's deputy prime minister shattered windows of several nearby houses but caused no injuries, officials said Thursday.

Authorities said the blast at the house of Naim Behluli, an advisor to Lutfi Haziri, was likely caused by a bomb. The province's government said it was a "cowardly and barbarian" act aimed at "fostering a climate of fear and insecurity."

Kosovo remains a province of Serbia but has been run by the United Nations since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign forced Belgrade to end a crackdown against ethnic Albanian rebels and pull out its forces.

The blast was the third in recent weeks targeting government officials as Kosovo enters a crucial stage in talks with Serbia's officials to settle its political status.

Fears of violence have marked ongoing U.N.-led negotiations on whether the province should become independent — which the province's ethnic Albanian leadership wants — or have broad autonomy but remain a part of Serb territory, as Belgrade insists.

The talks are slated to produce a settlement by the end of the year, although the prospects for a solution appear slim as the two sides have not agreed on any substantial issues since the negotiations began almost a year ago.