By PREDRAG MILIC
PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — The man who hurled a bomb into the U.S. embassy compound in Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital, and then killed himself, was an ex-soldier decorated by former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic after NATO’s bombing of Serbia and Montenegro in 1999, a police official said Thursday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said the man was 43-year-old Dalibor Jaukovic, who was identified by a close relative.
Police said in a statement earlier that an assailant threw a bomb into the embassy yard and then committed suicide by activating another one around midnight Wednesday.
The blast created a crater but caused no other material damage to the embassy property, the statement said. The embassy said Thursday all staff were safe and accounted for after the incident.
Police sealed off the area around the embassy after the explosion. Officers came to the scene after receiving reports about an explosion and found a lifeless male body in the area of the Moraca river that runs through Podgorica, the statement said.
The suspected attacker, Jaukovic, was born in the central Serbian town of Kraljevo but lived in Podgorica.
Photos posted on his Facebook profile include a plaque honoring his contribution in the fight against NATO during the bombing. The plaque appears to be personally signed by Milosevic. In a May 2017 Facebook post, Jaukavic said “no to NATO.”
Many in Montenegro remain opposed to the country’s NATO membership because of the air war the alliance waged to stop the war in Kosovo when Montenegro was still part of Yugoslavia.
Montenegro borders the Adriatic Sea in southeastern Europe. It joined NATO last year despite strong opposition from Russia, its traditional Slavic ally. Several people, including two Russian secret service operatives, are on trial in Podgorica on charges that they wanted to overthrow Montenegro’s government in 2016 because of its pro-Western policies.
The U.S. established diplomatic ties with the tiny Balkan state in 2006 after it split from much larger Serbia.
Associated Press writers Dusan Stojanovic and Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.