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Macedonia: NATO Chief Condemns Death As Weapons Are Collected

Brussels, 27 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson today condemned the killing of a British soldier in Macedonia, describing the attack as "absurd." Yesterday, unidentified youths threw a block of concrete that struck the driver of a British armored vehicle outside the capital Skopje. The 20-year-old soldier later died of his injuries. He was taking part in a British-led NATO mission to collect weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels.

Robertson said in a statement that the mission of the troops was "to assist the people and the government of Macedonia in achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the current crisis." He also said Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski assured him that authorities "will take all the necessary measures to avoid a repeat of such incidents."

Despite the killing, French and British soldiers began collecting weapons today near the village of Otlja, 10 kilometers west of the city of Kumanovo. The area was secured before NATO troops moved in and no incident has been reported so far.

For more on this story see: "NATO's 'Essential Harvest' Gets Under Way"