Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, center, speaks to the media in the capital, Pristina, on June 3, 2020. Unidentified attackers opened fire on journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi’s car in Mitrovica, Kosovo, on October 18, 2020. (AP/Visar Kryeziu)

Unidentified attackers open fire on journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi’s car in Kosovo

Berlin, October 22, 2020 — Kosovo authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the shooting attack on the car of journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On October 18, just after midnight, unidentified attackers shot five or six times at the car of Kajtazi, a reporter and managing editor for the privately owned news website Reporteri.net, in the center of Mitrovica while he was sitting in a nearby restaurant, Kajtazi told CPJ in an email and regional news website Balkan Insight reported. According to those sources, the car was damaged, but no one was injured.

“Kosovo authorities must thoroughly investigate the shooting attack on journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi, determine whether the attack was related to his work, and bring those responsible to justice,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Kosovo authorities must maximize their efforts to prevent such attacks and ensure that Shkumbin Kajtazi can carry out his work without fear.”

Kajtazi told CPJ that he believes the attack is related to his reporting for Reporteri.net and for Mitrovica local news site Jepi Zë, which he also owns; both regularly cover sensitive national and local issues in a city ethnically divided between Albanians and Serbs. In June, Kajtazi was the target of another attack in Mitrovica, when someone tried to set his car on fire, according to Safejournalists.net, a regional news website tracking violence against journalists. Kajtazi told CPJ that the suspect identified in that attack told police he was motivated by some of his articles, without specifying which ones.

According to the Balkan Insight report, Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti in an October 18 Facebook post called on “law enforcement agencies to treat Shkumbin’s case with high priority and clarify the circumstances of the attack.”

CPJ emailed the press department of the Kosovo police for comment, but did not immediately receive a reply.