Kosovo mourners pay tribute to slain reporters

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (Reuters) - Politicians, diplomats, officials and colleagues in Kosovo paid tribute on Friday to two journalists killed in Africa this week, saying their reporting had focused international attention on the province.

Reuters correspondent Kurt Schork and Associated Press television cameraman-producer Miguel Gil Moreno de Mora, who were shot dead in an ambush in Sierra Leone Wednesday, had spent much of the past two years reporting on Kosovo.

Veton Surroi, an independent politician and publisher of the Kosovo daily newspaper Koha Ditore, recalled Schork's prodigious output from Kosovo in the year of conflict between Serbs and ethnic Albanians which led up to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia.

"In his stories, a conflict became understood and the participants in the conflict had a face, had a name, had a story to tell. Kosovo was not just a point on the map," he said.

"Through his stories, it had become a narrative of suffering and of the need to stop that suffering," he told mourners at the memorial service in the Kosovo capital Pristina.

"When the Kosovars couldn't travel from one city to the other... we found out what was happening in the villages around Pristina through Miguel's camera, pegged to the front lines of the war," Surroi said.

Around 50 people packed into a room in the offices of Koha Ditore, which had organized the service, to hear the tributes. Pictures of Schork, a bespectacled 53-year-old, and Gil Moreno de Mora, a 32-year-old Spaniard, were displayed on a table.

Among the mourners were the heads of the U.S. and British missions in Kosovo and Hashim Thaqi, leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo and former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, whose campaign against Serb rule was covered by both men.

Also present were staffers from the United Nations and other international organizations, many of whom recalled earlier reports from Schork and Gil Moreno de Mora in Bosnia which built both of them a formidable reputation within journalism.

Journalists and officials also observed a moment's silence at international agencies' regular news briefing in Pristina.

David Slinn, the head of the British government's mission in Kosovo, said Schork, an American, had been admired and respected across ethnic boundaries and beyond his profession.

"He had lots of friends amongst the Kosovo Albanian community. He had lots of friends among the Kosovo Serb community," Slinn told the memorial service. "His aim was good for man, for mankind - and that's what drove him."