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In Macedonia, Ethnic Albanians Protest Arrests Of Murder Suspects


People protest in the Macedonian capital on May 11 against the arrest of six people over their alleged involvement in last month's murder of five people near Skopje.

People protest in the Macedonian capital on May 11 against the arrest of six people over their alleged involvement in last month's murder of five people near Skopje.

Thousands of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia have protested against the arrest of three men charged over the killing of five Macedonians last month.

The mid-April killings near Skopje and the ensuing police investigation have ratcheted up ethnic tensions in Macedonia, where at least one-quarter of the 2 million people are ethnic Albanian Muslims.

Twenty people, mainly ethnic Albanians, were arrested on May 1, and five of them were accused of the killings. They were charged with terrorism and described as "followers of radical Islam."

In Skopje, some 5,000 ethnic Albanians protested on May 11, chanting, "Muslims are not terrorists!"

Smaller protests were held in three other Macedonian towns.

In 2001, an armed conflict was fought between government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels.

A peace deal was signed in August 2001, when Albanians were given improved rights.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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