Skopje, August 13th
The events dating from August 6th and 7th indicated an escalation of the conflicts that occurred after the murder of 18 soldiers on August 8th and 10th. During the weekend from August 10th to August 12th Macedonia was at the brink of total, all out, war. All of this was in the face of the dawn of August 13th, the date set for signing of the political agreement.
Five extremists were killed in a police action.
According to police sources, on August 7th
in the Gazi Baba district in Skopje during an organized police raid on
a house, five extremists were killed by the special police forces, while
other five were arrested. Three of the killed extremists are citizens
of Republic Albania. The Macedonian government sent a dire letter of protest
to the Albanian government, because of the involvement of Albanian citizens.
The Albanian language newspaper "Fakti", writes that the five
ethnic Albanians were killed while sleeping and that they gave no resistance
Five civilians were torture victims. Five
workers from the "Mavrovo" construction company that worked
on the construction of the freeway Skopje - Tetovo were kidnapped by the
so-called NLA (National Liberation Army) on August 7th in the vicinity
of Zhelino. After many hours of brutal torture the workers were released
the same day (Human Rights Watch report: Torture, kidnapping conducted
by Albanians in Macedonia, New York, August 11th 2001; (www.hrw.org).
Assault on a humanitarian convoy.
On August 7th, MCIC organized a humanitarian convoy with food for the
communities Vratnica (inhabited by ethnic Macedonians) and Jazhince (inhabited
by ethnic Albanians), that have been cut-off from Tetovo for two months
now. While returning from Vratnica, somewhere in the vicinity of the village
Odri the convoy came under fire, and one of the shots ended up in one
of the trucks.
Assault on a military-police convoy from an ambush - ten dead. On August 8th, in the vicinity of Skopje, near Grupchin, a convoy of vehicles from the Macedonian military and police was attacked by extremists. 10 members of the security forces were killed in the assault and three were severely injured. Taken responsibility regarding the attack. The responsibility regarding the attack was taken by the Albanian National Army (ANA - AKSH). In his statement, Gzim Ostreni chief of the so-called NLA headquarters, he declined any connection of NLA with the assault on the military convoy.
Vigilante riots in Prilep. The 10 dead soldiers, among which two of Roma nationality, were all born in Prilep and the surrounding villages. Several thousand citizens of Prilep, after receiving the news on the night of August 8th, started vigilante riots by destroying stores, whose owners are ethnic Macedonians Muslims, Bosnians and ethnic Albanians. Also, the only mosque in town was burned, a XV century cultural monument. The Ministry of internal affairs established a curfew in the town, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Because of the created tension, the denizens of the village Presil (community Krusevo), inhabited by ethnic Albanians, moved to the neighboring village of Zhitoshe. From August 9th, the police, in order to stop further riots, controls the road that lead from Prilep to the ethnic Albanian villages of Zhitoshe and Crnilishte and the Muslim (Bosnian) village of Lazhani.
Simultaneous riots in Skopje.
In Skopje, simultaneously with Prilep, a large number of refugees from
the villages around Tetovo that are situated in Skopje, joined by a large
number of Skopje citizens, gathered in front of the Parliament and demanded
a more decisive action of the security forces. During the riots around
20 stores and objects were destroyed, and a number of them, all of which
are in ownership of ethnic Macedonian Muslims and ethnic Albanians, were
Eight soldiers died from the explosion of a mine
in the vicinity of the city of Skopje. On
August 10th, around 8 o'clock, in the vicinity off village Ljubanci, Skopska
Crna Gora, 20 kilometers from Skopje, an army vehicle, that came to bring
a rotation for the soldiers in the watchtowers in Tanushevci at the border
with Kosovo, came across a mine, which led to the deaths of 8 soldiers,
and other 8 are wounded. Riots after the announcement of the names of
the deceased. Four of the deceased soldiers are from the northwest suburbs
of Skopje, Gorce Petrov and Volkovo, two are from the village Ljubanci
and two are from the northeast part of Skopje, Butel. All of these areas
border with or are ethnically mixed areas. Immediately after the announcement
of the names riots started in the northwest suburbs of Skopje. The mob
turned towards the center of the town but was stopped by the police. After
this, destroying stores and objects belonging to ethnic Albanians in the
areas of Gorce Petrov, Porta Vlae and Volkovo was commenced with. Attempts
of physical attacks with the villagers from the ethnic Albanian village
of Nikishtani were prevented. The following day, the villagers left the
village and moved to Skopje and Kosovo.
The commanding officer of the headquarters of
the Macedonian Army was replaced.
General Pande Petrovski was relieved of the duty Commanding officer of
the headquarters of the Macedonian Army, and General Metodi Stambolski
was appointed at this function.
Severe fighting in the Tetovo area. Initial incidents. On August 6th, according to military and police sources, the extremists from Neproshteno and Dzepchishte attacked the security points at village Ratae, as well as the point at the stadium. According to the media in Albanian language and ethnic Albanians, denizens of the villages Poroj and Dzepchishte, the security forces broke the cease-fire, shelling the villages of Neproshteno and Slatino from their positions in Zhilche and Ratae. NLA advancements in Macedonian districts. On August 8th, around 1 p.m. shots could be heard in the city of Tetovo. A large number of extremists could be noticed through the city streets. The extremists were acting from the slopes of the Shar Planina Mountain, in the Teke area, the housing project 82, Drenovec 2 and the village Poroj. The police checkpoints at the stadium and the military barracks were attacked. Two citizens were injured (ethnic Macedonians, father and daughter) and one was killed (ethnic Albanian).
Counter offensive of the Macedonian security forces. The night of August 9th and the following day the Macedonian security forces started a counteroffensive with which they drove the extremists outside of Tetovo. In Tetovo, during the armed conflicts, three representatives of the security forces and five civilians were wounded, among which three ethnic Macedonians and two ethnic Albanians. A part of the armed encounters were on the road Tetovo - Jazhince that is a confrontation line between NLA, positioned north of the road and the Macedonian security forces positioned south of the road. On August 9th, during the shooting between the extremists positioned at the village Neproshteno, Dzepchishte and Leshok and the Macedonian security forces situated at the villages Zhilche and Ratae, a police officer was killed. The Albanian language newspaper "Fakti" writes that during the shelling of Slatino and Poroj by the Macedonian security forces a twelve year old girl and a man, both ethnic Albanians, lost their lives.
Stopping of the fighting. The
fighting in the area of Tetovo settled on the morning of August 12th.
An attack on Radusha. Radusha, 30 kilometer from Skopje, on the north end of the Zheden Mountain was the site of heavy fighting between the extremists and the Macedonian security forces from August 10th to August 12th. According to the state information agency MIA, a group of 600 armed persons was trying to enter Macedonia from Kosovo. The Macedonian security forces acted upon the extremist's positions with aircraft as well. During the fights a member of the police force was severely wounded. The extremists shelled the police station and the watchtower in Radusha that burned. Harsh accusations from the leadership of the state. The state leadership accused the Kosovo Protection Corps for aggression on the Republic of Macedonia and demanded action on behalf of UN and NATO.
Actions in Laskarce and Bojane.
The Macedonian security forces undertook actions on August 12th in the
villages of Laskarce and Bojane for securing the freeway Skopje - Tetovo.
During the actions the freeway was closed for traffic and reopened at
about 5 p.m. During the action the area of the village Bojane was acted
upon with grenades and with few grenades on the village Kondovo as well.
Fights and disorder on Skopska Crna Gora (The northwest side of Skopska Crna Gora is above Skopje, and the eastern is towards the Lipkovo-Kmanovo area). Fights in the village Ljuboten. The village Ljuboten neighbors the village Ljubanci where 8 soldiers died. The village is mostly populated with ethnic Albanians (around 1,800 ethnic Albanians and 150 ethnic Macedonians). The morning of August 12th fights in the village commenced with the utilization of mortars. In the afternoon hours a group of civilians, according to the Albanian language media, tried to make a break for Skopje. Unofficially, it had an encounter with the police and with the villagers from village Ljubanci and yielded 9 dead and 20 persons were arrested. On August 12th two Parliament representatives, ethnic Albanians on road to Ljuboten, were taken into custody by the police force and were later released. Civil blockade of the Ljuboten village. Around 1,000 citizens, ethnic Albanians, which wanted to evacuate from Ljuboten and settle in Skopje, were prevented by the denizens of the villages Ljubanci and Radishani. The convoy of buses with police escorts was not permitted through. The villagers claim that among the villagers that need to be evacuated are the extremists responsible for the mine set on August 10th. Fighting in Brnjarci as well. The police forces in the village Brnjarci, neighboring village to Arachinovo is under constant attack from the so-called NLA situated in the Lipkovo area on August 12th and 13th. Because of the attacks a curfew was introduced in Arachinovo, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Approved political treaty. The
leaders of the four political parties included in the dialogue, after
completing the debates regarding the amendment of the Constitution, accepted
the political agreement on August 8th. The document, besides the leaders
of the political parties, was signed by the President of the state and
the two special representatives from the USA and EU. Signing of the agreement
with the presence of prominent representatives from EU, OSCE and NATO
has been set on August 13th.
MRTV (Macedonian Radio and Television) without
information broadcasts in Albanian. The
Macedonian Radio and Television (MRTV) stopped broadcasting information
programs in Albanian from June 8th. As the executive editor of the Albanian
department said, the general director of MRTV demanded that all information
programs in Albanian be firstly approved by the executive editor of MRTV.
This was not approved by the editorial department, which decided to stop
broadcasting information programs in Albanian.
Religion appeal for peace. The Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Islam religion community, the Evangelistic-Methodist church and the Jewish community of the Republic of Macedonia called all followers and citizens to reason and mutual respect with a mutual announcement on August 10th. The announcement followed the unsuccessful attempt of the EU delegation to organize a joint meeting of the church leaders on August 9th. The meeting was not held due to the tension those days and was replaced by a joint announcement.