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Macedonia: Tension Increases In Kosovo Border Region

Skopje, 2 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Reports from Macedonia say there is tension in the region bordering on Kosovo because of potential threat of violence between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. Government spokesman Antonio Milososki said in Skopje that the peace in the area is "fragile."

"The situation in the vicinity of the borders (with Kosovo) of the Tetovo-Kumanovo regions can be described as a fragile peace."

Meanwhile, rioters smashed windows and set fire to ethnic Albanian shops in overnight rioting in the town of Bitola, in southwestern Macedonia.

State radio said at least ten ethnic Albanian shops were demolished in the rioting. There were no reports of injuries.

The violence started early yesterday, after the funerals on Monday of four of the eight Macedonian security officers who had been killed in clashes with ethnic Albanians last weekend.

In a separate incident, a group of gunmen opened fire on a patrol of Macedonian police near the village of Lipkovo, in northern Macedonia. No injuries were reported.

The Macedonian parliament is to hold an emergency session later this week (4 May) to assess the security situation.

Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush was scheduled to meet at the White House today with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski to discuss developments in the Balkans.

(For more on this story, please see: Macedonia: Anti-Albanian Riots Put Conflict On New Level)