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Macedonia: Army Says It Will Maintain Cease-Fire

Skopje, 12 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Macedonian Army today said it would maintain a cease-fire despite accusing ethnic Albanian rebels of ambushing a police patrol and breaking the truce. Police spokesman Stevo Pendarovski said rebels attacked a truck carrying policemen late yesterday near Tetovo in the northwest. Two policemen were shot and several others injured when they fell off the truck. An ensuing shootout lasted until dawn.

Red Cross spokeswoman Amanda Cross said workers used the cease-fire called yesterday to deliver medicine and other supplies to thousands of ethnic Albanian civilians behind rebel lines near Kumanovo in the northeast.

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe relief team went to the Kumanovo reservoir in an attempt to restart water supplies. Civilians in Kumanovo have been without water for a week.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said yesterday that more than 14,000 ethnic Albanians have sought refuge in Kosovo since Friday after fleeing fighting in Macedonia.

Balkans Stability Pact coordinator Bodo Hombach says that the fighting in Macedonia threatens peace and economic development across the Balkan peninsula.

Speaking at the opening of a meeting in Zagreb attended by representatives of 60 countries and international organizations, Hombach said that the Stability Pact cannot function as what he called "a crisis management tool" to resolve armed conflict.

In addition, he said, organized crime and corruption inhibit foreign investment. He said, however, that the Balkans Stability Pact program has made effective progress against corruption.

The Balkans Stability Pact was launched two years ago to help rebuild the region after years of war and communist rule.