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Macedonia: Fighting Injures Five Civilians

Tetovo, 23 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Gunfire between Macedonian government forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas wounded five noncombatants in Tetovo today, one severely. Ethnic Albanian insurgents fired several mortar rounds into a Macedonian army barracks on the town's northeastern edge. There have been no immediate reports of injuries from that attack. Later, army units shelled rebel positions. Army officials said both sides are using mortars.

A three-week-old cease-fire remains nominally in effect, but clashes between the rebels and government forces have been frequent.

Earlier today, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski met with U.S. and EU diplomats James Pardew and Francois Leotard to discuss possible future peace talks.

Peace talks stalled last week. Albanian political leaders are calling for Albanian to be recognized as an official language and for a police force, staffed partially by ethnic Albanians, independent of the Interior Ministry.