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Macedonia: Minor Incidents Reported Ahead Of Peace Deal

Skopje, 11 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Macedonian television reported helicopter gunships were sent to an area near the border with Kosovo today to rescue a police unit which was surrounded by ethnic Albanian fighters. The police unit was trapped on Mount Radusa, about 25 kilometers northwest from Skopje. There were no reports of casualties.

The fighting outside Skopje comes after shooting overnight near Macedonia's second largest city Tetovo. Reports earlier in the day said there was gun fire in several villages near Tetovo.

The renewed fighting takes place on a day of national mourning for seven soldiers killed by landmines near Skopje yesterday.

The Macedonian government and leaders from the ethnic Albanian population are scheduled to sign a peace agreement Monday (13 August).

The political leader of the outlawed ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK), Ali Ahmeti told Voice of America in an interview that the UCK approves of the agreement and will disarm after it is signed. Ahmeti did not give a date for when the UCK would disarm.

Macedonian government spokesman Antonio Milososki said Skopje is ready to sign the peace agreement but he cautioned that the accord must be ratified by parliament, which is unlikely until the UCK disarms.