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AFP Macedonian army reports sporadic attacks overnight

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  • Snezana Lazovic
    http://sg.news.yahoo.com/010811/1/1b7v2.html Saturday August 11, 6:00 PM Macedonian army reports sporadic attacks overnight SKOPJE, Aug 11 (AFP) - Macedonia
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2001
      http://sg.news.yahoo.com/010811/1/1b7v2.html

      Saturday August 11, 6:00 PM

      Macedonian army reports sporadic attacks overnight

      SKOPJE, Aug 11 (AFP) -

      Macedonia was relatively calm on Saturday morning, after a flare
      up in violence the previous day threatened to scupper next week's
      planned signature of a peace accord aimed at avoiding war in the
      Balkan country.

      Army spokesman Blagoja Markovski told AFP only "minor
      incidents" had been registered near the volatile northwestern town
      of Tetovo, where ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National
      Liberation Army (NLA) had breached a July 5 ceasefire seven
      times overnight, using automatic weapons.

      He said the breaches took place in the northwestern villages of
      Gajre, Lisec, Dzepciste, Poroj and Brodec, near Tetovo,
      Macedonia's main ethnic Albanian town and the scene of much of
      the fighting since the rebels launched an insurgency in February.

      Markovski said the army had not responded to any of the
      breaches.

      He said in the northern region of Kumanovo, another rebel
      stronghold, automatic gunfire had been heard in the morning near
      Nikustak.

      Late on Friday several hundred Macedonian protestors tried to
      storm the US embassy in Skopje, further stoking tensions here.

      Friday had seen an uneasy calm, after a flare up in violence
      overnight between guerrillas and Macedonian forces.

      Seven soldiers were also killed by a landmine on Friday. And 10
      Macedonian soldiers, killed on Wednesday in the deadliest attack
      by the rebels thus far, were buried in the southern town of Prilep in
      a ceremony attended by thousands of angry, grief-stricken
      mourners.

      The embassy demonstration was the latest expression of
      Macedonian resentment towards the West, which the Skopje
      government has regularly accused of indirectly helping the rebels.

      An AFP photographer at the scene said protestors threw stones at
      both the embassy and police but were prevented from entering the
      embassy by riot police, who later brought the demonstration under
      control.

      On Friday Western officials voiced concern that the new outbreak
      of violence in Macedonia would scupper the signature of an
      internationally brokered peace accord planned for Monday.

      An outline agreement was approved Wednesday by the parties
      represented in parliament but since then the situation on the ground
      has rapidly deteriorated, throwing the signature of the accord into
      doubt.

      NATO, which would be responsible for disarming the NLA rebels
      under an eventual peace accord, earlier warned against seeking a
      military solution to the crisis and urged a return to a July 5
      ceasefire.

      The focus of concern has been the northwestern town of Tetovo.
      Rebels control some of the suburbs and are trying to push into
      parts of the town.

      The rebels say they are fighting for minority rights for ethnic
      Albanians, who make up to one third of the country of two million
      people.

      Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva sent a letter to NATO
      Secretary General George Robertson and EU foreign policy chief
      Javier Solana on Friday urging greater action against the rebels.

      "The patience and the threshold of tolerance of the citizens of the
      Republic of Macedonia have been brought to their limit," the letter
      said.

      The Macedonian National Security Council met overnight and said
      in a statement it would "continue decisive action with the aim of
      eliminating the threats to the security forces and citizens of
      Macedonia".
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