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Macedonia: Kosovo Albanians Hold Protest March

General Jankovic, Yugoslavia, 30 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- An estimated 1,000 Kosovar Albanians demonstrated near the border with Macedonia today to protest a cross-frontier shelling attack that killed three people in a Kosovo village. The protesters blamed Macedonian forces for the barrage yesterday on the border town of Krivenik. Two ethnic Albanians and a British cameraman were killed, and at least 10 others were wounded in the shelling.

The attack came as NATO-led peacekeepers stepped up their patrols along the Kosovo-Macedonian border. Polish and Ukrainian troops already patrolling the area are being bolstered by some 400 British and Finnish troops equipped with sophisticated surveillance systems.

Both the Macedonian army and ethnic Albanian fighters in Macedonia have denied responsibility for the shelling.

The Macedonian army said today it was continuing its offensive to clear out ethnic Albanian fighters from the northern border with Kosovo. An army spokesman claimed a recent success in pushing back to Kosovo some 20 ethnic Albanian fighters.

Commenting on the incident, Hans Haekkerup, the chief UN administrator for Kosovo, said he called for restraint by Macedonian forces and for dialogue to replace shooting when visiting Skopje today.

In Vienna, Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that improving the status of his country's ethnic Albanians is a key government concern.