PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo police say a parliamentary candidate from Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s ruling party was shot dead early Sunday as he walked out of a restaurant.
Police said in a statement Sunday that Elvis Pista — a flamboyant politician recognizable for his spiked hair — was shot four times at close range shortly after midnight in the western town of Orahovac, his hometown. Authorities believe a handgun with a silencer was used.
Police did not discuss possible motives behind the attack but the slaying comes amid heightened tensions between political rivals after Kosovo’s June 8 parliamentary election. The final results were not in from Pista’s race but preliminary results showed him leading.
Thaci’s center-right party won the most votes last week but lacks a coalition partner to form a government. Rival parties have vowed not to govern with Thaci, citing widespread corruption and mismanagement.
In Orahovac, hundreds gathered Sunday to pay their respects.
Thaci, who called Pista “an associate and a friend,” condemned the killing and urged police to swiftly find who was responsible. Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga also condemned the shooting, saying it threatened the rule of law in Kosovo.
Past elections in Kosovo were often marred by irregularities and violence between rival groups but no incidents were reported in the June 8 poll, the second such vote since Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008.
Belgrade still rejects Kosovo’s independence.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.