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Macedonia: Ethnic Albanian Violence Spreads

Tetovo, Macedonia; 14 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Violence between ethnic Albanian militants and Macedonian authorities has spread to the western part of Macedonia. RFE/RL's correspondent in the region reports that ethnic Albanian snipers today fired on police in the mountains near the predominantly ethnic-Albanian town of Tetovo close to Macedonia's border with Albania.

An Interior Ministry spokesman in Skopje, Stevo Pendarovski, has confirmed that heavy clashes began in the morning at the settlement of Kale near Tetovo. He gave no details on casualties.

The clashes could be heard in the center of Tetovo where about 3,000 ethnic Albanians rallied today to call for talks between Skopje officials and ethnic Albanian militants who have been fighting to the east near Macedonia's border with Kosovo.

Our correspondent reports that a television crew for Macedonia's private A-1 channel also was beaten today in an attack by some Tetovo demonstrators.

Reports from western Macedonia say police increased security in the predominantly ethnic Albanian town of Tetovo today after shooting was heard during the ethnic Albanian protest.

Reports say the gunfire appears to have come from the Tetovo suburb of Kale. Macedonian authorities have set up roadblocks and are preventing people from entering the suburb.

Interior Ministry officials in Skopje said they were unable to immediately confirm details about the shooting.

(For an analysis please read the report from our correspondent Jolyon Naegele: Macedonia: Albanians Fear Insurgencies Damaging Prospects)