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Macedonia: Talks Put On Hold

Skopje, 8 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Macedonia's peace talks have been temporarily suspended after a series of attacks today by ethnic Albanian fighters described by Skopje as a rebel offensive. The VMRO, the party of President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, says it will announce a final decision on the negotiations after an emergency security council meeting due to start at 1700 local and Prague time.

At least 10 government soldiers were killed when guerrillas ambushed their convoy on the highway linking Skopje to Tetovo.

NATO has issued a statement condemning the attack "in most vigorous terms." A NATO spokesperson (unnamed) said the ambush by the ethnic Albanian fighters "runs against the efforts" to end an ethnic Albanian insurgency in Macedonia.

Guerrillas wearing insignia of the self-styled National Liberation Army (UCK) also have seized positions in the northern and central and southern parts of Tetovo. The guerrillas also have blocked roads leading south from Tetovo to Skopje.

The fighting erupted just hours before political leaders were expected to resolve their last remaining differences over a political accord aimed at ending the insurgency.

(For more on the latest developments in Macedonia, please see : Macedonia: Fresh Clashes Cast Shadow Over Negotiations.)