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Macedonia: Army Resumes Shelling Of Rebel-Held Villages

Kumanovo, Macedonia; 11 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Macedonian army today resumed shelling of villages held by ethnic Albanian rebels, ignoring threats by the rebels to attack targets in Skopje. The army began this morning shelling the villages of Slupcane and Matejce, near the town of Komanovo.

Yesterday, ethnic Albanian militant Commandant Hoxha told RFE/RL that his forces would use rockets and artillery against targets in Skopje if the government does not halt its northern offensive. The threat followed the seizure by the militants on Friday (8 June) of a Skopje suburb named Aracinovo.

Hoxha said he has 120mm mortars, rockets, and anti-aircraft weapons which could be used to strike the civilian airport, the oil refinery, the government building, the parliament, and police posts.

He said the attacks could be launched "not from Aracinovo, but from positions higher in the mountains."

Fierce fighting was reported in northern Macedonia yesterday as government forces attempted again to recapture a series of rebel-held villages.

Reports say at least one Macedonian soldier was killed and three others wounded in fighting near the village of Slupcane.