A Serb member of Kosovo’s parliament was shot and wounded on Monday amid a flare-up of tensions over the hotly disputed north of the Balkan territory.

Petar Miletic, chief of the parliamentary group for the Independent Liberal party, was having surgery to remove the bullets following the attack, which took place in the corridor outside his apartment in northern Mitrovica, the Serb-controlled part of the divided city. Kosovo police hoped to interview to him afterwards to help identify and the gunman.

“The case has been classified as attempted murder,” said Besim Hoti, Kosovo police spokesman. “We can’t exclude the political background and a political motive.”

In a tense environment where ethnic Serbs largely boycott Kosovo as a state, Mr Miletic is known as exceptionally co-operative with the ethnic Albanian-dominated institutions based in Pristina.

He was under consideration for a post a deputy director of the Kosovo intelligence service, local officials said.

Three witnesses gave police descriptions of the gunman, who used his shirt to hide his face as he fled, Mr Hoti said.

The shooting followed a grenade attack at a pro-Serbian demonstration in northern Mitrovica on Friday, which left a local paediatrician dead and more than 10 people wounded.

Protesters loyal to Belgrade had gathered for a peaceful rally against a new registry office answering to Pristina. Ethnic Albanians, who form about 90 per cent of Kosovo’s 2m people, have attempted without success to recover their former houses and land north of the Ibar river, where ties to Serbia remain strongest.

While Serbian officials condemned the “provocation”, Bajram Rexepi, Kosovo’s interior minister, said Serbs had staged the attack.

Kosovo declared independence in February 2008 after nearly nine years as a United Nations post-war protectorate. The UN continues to administer northern Mitrovica, where Serbs have rejected Kosovo’s authorities.

Belgrade still regards the territory as a Serbian province and has sought a ruling from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo’s secession. With a ruling expected within weeks, the two sides are gearing up for further negotiations over how they can co-exist.

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