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Macedonia: Ethnic Albanians Face Deadline

Tetovo, 21 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ethnic Albanian fighters are facing a midnight deadline set by the Macedonian government to either withdraw, surrender, or face an assault by Macedonian forces in the hills around Tetovo. The Macedonian government says its forces will refrain from firing on the fighters up till midnight. If the deadline passes with no action taken by the fighters, Macedonian forces will use all possible force to destroy them.

An Albanian commander, who gave his name as Skopje, told Reuters the Albanian fighters will ignore the ultimatum.

The ultimatum was issued hours after the Macedonian army started using tanks to shell fighter positions around Tetovo for the first time since fighting started near the city almost a week ago and forced 8,000 people to flee their homes.