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Macedonia: Peacekeepers Stand On Alert

Skopje, 8 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- International peacekeepers in Kosovo are on alert today after their first clashes with armed ethnic Albanians rebels along Macedonia's border with Kosovo. Following the fighting, peacekeepers took control of Mijak, a town in Kosovo not far from the flash-point Macedonian village of Tanusevci, where three Macedonian soldiers had died earlier in the week in encounters with the rebels.

In yesterday's clashes, the peacekeepers wounded two rebels and took one prisoner.

There was also tension in the buffer zone between Serbia and Kosovo yesterday, after three Yugoslav soldiers died in a land mine explosion.

At the United Nations, Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim asked the Security Council to support the deployment of KFOR peacekeepers along a stretch of his country's border with Kosovo to prevent the rebel attacks.

NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said on 6 March that NATO is considering allowing Yugoslav troops back into the buffer zone along a section of Macedonia's border. NATO's 19 ministers met yesterday in Brussels to discuss that proposal and other measures.