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DT Mine deaths outrage Macedonia

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  • Snezana Lazovic
    http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2001%2F08%2F11%2Fwmac11.xml THE DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK) Saturday 11 August 2001 Mine deaths outrage
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2001
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      http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2001%2F08%2F11%2Fwmac11.xml

      THE DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)
      Saturday 11 August 2001

      Mine deaths outrage Macedonia

      By Christian Jennings in Hasan Beg

      ALBANIAN rebels killed eight Macedonian soldiers
      and wounded eight yesterday when they detonating
      three anti-tank mines under an army convoy.

      Guerrillas of the National Liberation Army have also
      taken control of large parts of Tetovo, Macedonia's
      second largest city. The mine attack happened three
      miles north of the capital, Skopje.

      A Macedonian military official said the mines were
      probably planted late on Thursday by the same
      rebels who killed 10 soldiers the previous day in an
      ambush on the main Skopje-Tetovo road.

      The bloodshed drew an immediate response from
      Ljubco Georgievski, the hardline Prime Minister, who
      distanced himself from the peace agreement
      recently initialled by his government and pledged
      all-out war against the guerrillas. But the
      government's military position is worsening by the
      day.

      According to western defence officials and
      observers, NLA members can now move around at
      will through the outskirts and suburbs of Tetovo,
      half of which fell to them on Wednesday.

      Government soldiers and policemen have frequently
      deserted their posts and fled in recent weeks in the
      face of rebel advances.

      In the village of Hasan Beg, furious policemen
      wearing body armour and carrying automatic rifles
      blocked the road and kicked cars driven by Albanians
      yesterday. Drunk on brandy in the 80F morning
      heat, they yelled at foreign journalists to turn back.

      Further fighting flared yesterday around Tetovo,
      which is dominated by Albanians. Macedonia's
      fledgling, mercenary-piloted air force bombed the
      rebels from Sukhoi-25 ground-attack jets, and made
      rocket attacks from seven Mi-24 helicopter gunships
      with Ukrainian crews.

      The clashes came as Slav and Albanian political
      parties, under intense pressure from international
      negotiators, prepared to sign a peace deal on
      Monday. As so often in the Balkans, talk of peace
      and increased fighting are going hand-in-hand.

      Under the proposed plan, Albanians would be
      guaranteed an increased presence in the country's
      police force, greater educational benefits and
      increased recognition of Albanian as a national
      language in Macedonia.

      Up to 3,500 Nato peacekeepers would disarm
      Albanian rebels after a formal deal between them
      and the Macedonian government.

      One western defence official said: "This is going to
      be one of the hardest ever Nato missions and
      already, even at this planning stage, it's got
      'disaster' written all over it in capital letters."

      * British troops yesterday arrested a Bosnian Serb
      who commanded a corps operating in eastern
      Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. Col Vidoje Blagojevic
      is thought to have been accused of involvement in
      the Srebrenica massacre.
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