The bus, clearly marked as belonging to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was on a routine run between the town of Banja and Mitrovica and escorted by armoured personnel vehicles of the international peacekeeping force (KFOR). Most of the 49 passengers were believed to be Kosovar Serbs.
Describing the incident as "grave", UNHCR spokesman Peter Kessler said this was the first time that the bus service had come under such an attack.
The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) deplored the "senseless attack" on innocent Kosovar residents. Jack Covey, Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said in a statement that UNMIK and KFOR "will spare no effort in investigating this incident in order to bring those responsible to justice."
The bus was operated by the Danish Refugee Council as part of eight so-called "freedom of movement" bus lines established by UNHCR to ensure safe passage in ethnically divided communities.