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Macedonia: Multiethnic Police Enter 10 Villages

Skopje, 30 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Multiethnic security forces today regained control of 10 Macedonian villages previously controlled by ethnic Albanian rebels, but were blocked from entering others. The Macedonian police units, comprising ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, entered the villages in northwestern Macedonia accompanied by international monitors. The villages had been under rebel control since last year's ethnic Albanian insurgency.

A Western-brokered peace plan signed in August called for the police patrols to reclaim rebel territory, once lawmakers granted minorities greater rights.

But residents of about five villages prevented the police forces from entering their towns, employing both roadblocks and threats.

In the village of Celopek, near Tetovo, police reported that a building meant to house members of the multiethnic police was badly damaged by a bomb, but no one was hurt. Celopek has been patrolled by the new force since last week.