Serbia’s prime minister – who spearheaded the revolt that toppled former President Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000 – was assassinated Wednesday by gunmen who ambushed him outside government headquarters.
Zoran Djindjic, 50, died of his wounds in a Belgrade hospital after being shot in the abdomen and back, said Nebojsa Covic, a deputy prime minister. Police sources told The Associated Press that snipers firing from a building across from the government headquarters shot Djindjic as he left his car. A high-power bullet left a dent on Djindjic’s armored car.
Two suspects were arrested, witnesses said. But police, unsure whether they had the gunmen, cast a wide net for the assassins, setting up roadblocks in Belgrade and halting bus, rail and plane traffic from the capital.
Djindjic was one of the few good guys in post-Yugoslav politics. He wasn’t a crypto-fascist like Croatia’s Franjo Trudjman, or a genocidal killer like his predecessor, Slobo Milosevic. He was doing an honest job of trying to bring his troubled country into the modern world, even letting little Montenegro go (mostly) its own way.
His reward for his efforts was the all-too-typical one in Balkan politics — assassin’s bullets in his chest.