Former Milosevic opponent shot in Kosovo attack

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Prominent lawyer and once one of the strongest opponents to late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Azem Vllasi, pictured in 2014, has been shot outside his home

A prominent Kosovo lawyer, once a leading opponent of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, was shot outside his home in Pristina on Monday, the police and doctors said.

Azem Vllasi, 68, was shot in the shoulder by an attacker in front of his apartment at around 8:00 am (0700 GMT), the police said.

He was taken to hospital where doctors said his injury was not life-threatening.

Two men were arrested over the attack several hours later, one suspected as the attacker and another of helping him, but the motive for the shooting is yet to be determined, police spokesman Baki Kelani told reporters.

The identity of the suspects was not revealed.

According to media reports the assailant presented himself as a potential client.

Vllasi's wife, Nadira Avdic Vllasi, who witnessed the attack, told AFP that the man used a pistol with a silencer.

Media reports said the main suspect held by police was known for links to ethnic Albanian guerrillas that fought Serbian security forces in the 1998-1999 war.

Vllasi told reporters that the attack on him was an "ordered assassination".

"Why and by whom, the investigation will show," he said.

The government condemned strongly the attack, saying that "such actions are unacceptable at all in a democratic country".

During the communist era in what was then Yugoslavia, Vllasi was a close ally of president Josip Broz Tito and a top official in Kosovo.

After Tito's death in 1980, Vllasi strongly opposed Milosevic's push to roll back the political autonomy that Kosovo had enjoyed under his rule.

In the late 1980s he was the first high-ranking ethnic Albanian to be detained and tried under Milosevic, though a court later acquitted him.

The suspension of autonomy in Kosovo, with its ethnic Albanian majority, led to the conflict with Belgrade that ended after a NATO air campaign that ousted Milosevic's security forces from Kosovo.

That paved the way for Kosovo's independence a decade later, which Belgrade refuses to recognise, considering it a province of Serbia.