February 16, 2001: Bombing targets peacekeeping convoy in Kosovo

On February 16, 2001 Albanian terrorists were suspected to have been behind a bus bombing in which 12 Kosovo Serbs were killed in Podujevo.

PODUJEVO, KOSOVO – When nations break up things are usually unsettled at a minimum, but the former Yugoslavia was a whole different ballgame – terrorism has ensued on occasion.

Do you remember the end of the Cold War? I sure do. I was a multilingual foreign intelligence analyst at CSE (Communications Security EstablishmentCanada’s signals intelligence (SIGINT) agency) at the time and although I did not look at the Soviet Union and its allies I understood just what it meant when that nation dissolved and the wall ‘fell’.

There was so much hope and optimism in the air and even if US President Bush’s ‘thousand points of light’ was a little over the top it did speak to a sense of relief that we had not annihilated each other in MAD (mutually assured destruction).

All our troubles are over and we can all live together in harmony, right? Ummm… (Photo: By Lear 21 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)

One area that was part of the Communist bloc was Yugoslavia, even if it was always a bit on the periphery. Alas, the new era ushered in by the termination of East-West acrimony led to the settling of old ethnic scores, some in the form of terrorist attacks.

On this day in 2001

Albanian ‘extremists’ were suspected to have been behind a bus bombing in which 12 Kosovo Serbs were killed in Podujevo. The bus was part of a convoy that was protected by UK and Swedish forces under KFOR – a NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

All of a sudden, everything burst, the bus seemed to have fallen apart. Blood was dripping from the roof. When I managed to get out, parts of bodies were everywhere.

Survivor of the attack

Alas this incident was not an isolated one and even today tensions are high in the Balkans (including in Bosnia). Kinda makes you pine for the ‘calmer’ days of the Cold War, doesn’t it? Not really.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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