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Macedonia: Fighting Spreads In Northern Macedonia

Skopje, 21 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Fighting between the Macedonian Army and ethnic Albanian rebels spread today to several villages in northern Macedonia. Macedonian army spokesman Blagoja Markovski told reporters that the ethnic Albanians provoked a response from government troops by attacking the villages of Slupcane and Vaksince.

Markovski said that clashes, including attacks by government helicopter gunships and tanks, later erupted in the nearby village of Opae.

Markovski said there was also shooting between the two sides in the village of Rudince. He did not provide any details on casualties or damage. Fighting between the army and the ethnic Albanian rebels flared up anew on 3 May. The rebels are seeking more rights for the republic's large Albanian minority.

The Macedonian national unity government postponed a threatened all-out assault on the rebels last week in a bid to peacefully resolve the conflict.

For more information on the conflict in northern Macedonia, please see Macedonia: Villagers Trapped As Standoff Continues.