The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today condemned a shooting attack on the car of a journalist in Kosovo and called for a swift investigation by law enforcement authorities.

At around midnight on Sunday, October 18, five or six bullets were fired at the vehicle belonging to journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi in the city centre of Mitrovica, shattering the side window and causing serious damage.

IPI said it was the second time in four months that a car belonging to the journalist had been targeted by unidentified individuals.

“We strongly condemn this latest attack on the car belonging to Shkumbin Kajtazi and urge authorities to Kosovo to thoroughly investigate to identify who is behind them,” IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Such acts of intimidation have a chilling effect on media freedom and pose a serious threat to the safety of journalists in Kosovo.”

Griffen said IPI would continue to monitor the case in partnership with local journalist groups until those responsible for the repeated attacks on Kajtazi were brought to justice. He also welcomed the statement by the country’s prime minister for law enforcement authorities to handle the investigation a priority.

After the latest attack, Kajtazi posted photos on his personal Facebook page showing the holes in the car’s windows, driver’s seat, roof and rear, saying that he believed the attack was linked to his work.

The vehicle had been parked in the downtown area of Mitrovica at the time. Kajtazi was not inside the vehicle and no one was injured.

A police spokesperson for the Mitrovica Region, Avni Zahiti, said an investigation into the armed attack had been opened. He confirmed that four bullet shells from a 9 mm calibre weapon had been found at the scene.

A photo of the damaged car belonging to journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi. 18 October 2020. Credit: Shkumbin Kajtazi/Facebook

Second attack in four months

On June 13, 2020, an unidentified individual attempted to set Kajtazi’s car on fire in Mitrovica but was disrupted when neighbours spotted them and phoned the police.

At the time, a forensics team found a gasoline bottle next to the car and footage from a security camera showing the perpetrator was provided to the authorities.

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) condemned the latest attack, adding that such threats did not only “harm the environment journalists work in, but it threatens the lives of each journalist”.

The country’s prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, also condemned the attack on Facebook and urged “law enforcement agencies to treat Shkumbin’s case with high priority and clarify the circumstances of the attack”.