Skopje, 9 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A Macedonian police convoy was evacuated today after being trapped for nearly 24 hours in a stand-off with ethnic Albanian militants near the Kosovo border. One police officer was killed when militants fired at the convoy late yesterday.
Macedonia has called on NATO to deploy KFOR peacekeepers along its side of the Kosovo border to prevent more rebel incursions. Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim, speaking during a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels today, called for a joint operation involving KFOR and Macedonian security forces:
"We firmly believe that only immediate action by KFOR forces on the other side of the border, which implies their presence, their active role, and operations there in full coordination with our security forces -- only those measures can resolve the situation on the ground."
In southern Serbia's Presevo Valley, meanwhile, ethnic Albanian guerrillas today killed one Serbian policeman. In addition, Serbian officials say five Serb civilians from Kosovo went missing this afternoon while traveling through the buffer zone separating Kosovo from the rest of Serbia.
NATO has promised unspecified "additional measures" to help Macedonia deal with the guerrillas.
NATO has pledged to allow Yugoslav forces into a part of the ground safety zone between Kosovo and Serbia, next to the Macedonian border. Since 1999, Yugoslav troops have been banned from the zone, which has been used by guerrillas as a supply route to Macedonia and to launch attack on Serbian forces.
For more on this story, please see: Yugoslavia: Skirmishes Continue Along Macedonia Border