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Macedonia: Uneasy Calm Follows Late-Night Protests

Skopje, 26 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A tense situation is reported this morning in Macedonia. Late last night, some 3,000 protesters besieged the parliament building in Skopje protesting against what they see as the government's leniency towards ethnic Albanian rebels. Reuters says armed police reservists broke into the parliament and fired volleys into the air.

As the protest started, President Boris Trajkovski was holding talks with Macedonian and Albanian party leaders inside the building. They were reported to have left by another exit. AFP says the situation has since calmed down.

The protest followed a deal, brokered and implemented by NATO and European envoys, that allowed a group of ethnic Albanian rebels to leave the village of Aracinovo, close to the capital.

About 500 rebels left Aracinovo on buses, accompanied by NATO troops and European Union observers. Reuters says heavy fighting broke out around the western town of Tetovo shortly after the rebels left Aracinovo.

Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski criticized NATO for escorting what he called "terrorists" under the cease-fire agreement and promised to eliminate them.