20 - 26 August 2001

Skopje, August 27th 2001

Security condition

It is relatively peaceful in the crisis area with serious individual incidents.
Serious cease-fire violations have not been registered during the week. A few shootings have been recorded in the region of the villages Matejce, Nikustak and Umin Dol in the Kumanovo-Lipkovo region. Also smaller incidents have been recorded in the Tetovo region in the area of the villages Sipkovica, Zilce, Ratae and Neprosteno. Macedonian language media report that the extremist's in the village Neprosteno has burned about one hundred houses belonging to ethnic Macedonians.

A bomb in a motel, two civilian victims.
On August 26th, in the vicinity of village Celopek, the Macedonian language media reported that a motel has been destroyed by the extremist's with the utilization of a vast quantity of explosive, during which two civilians, ethnic Macedonians were killed. On August 24th the extremist's placed explosives in the Station for technical assessment of vehicles, situated on the road Tetovo-Brvenica, as well. The Albanian language newspaper "Fakti" reports the statement given by the president of the municipality Brvenica, which claims that ever since the beginning of the crisis, police forces were stationed in the motel, so the Albanians could not have access to the place of the event.

Explosives set in a church belonging to the Lesok monastery complex.
The church "St. Atanasij", built in 1924, was destroyed with a great quantity of explosives on August 21st. It belongs to the Lesok monastery complex that dates from the XIV century. All Macedonian parties, the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Islam Religious Community, the Institute for protection of monuments and other institutions condemned this act of violence on religious objects. Also, the entire international public condemned this barbaric act. Macedonian parties and institutions assigned this act to the extremist's. The Albanian parties stated that they posses insufficient information regarding the assault on the church. The Chief of staff of the NLA, Gzim Ostreni, stated that they have not attacked any religious objects so far. According to the Albanian language media, the destruction of the church may be a response to the shelling of the mosque in the village Neprosteno the day before that. The Albanian language media claim that no one has condemned the destruction of about 46 mosques in the crisis areas, while the Macedonian language media report that, so far, the extremist's have destroyed about 20 churches and monasteries.

Explosions in Skopje.
The morning of August 27th, three explosives devices exploded in three separate parts of Skopje, causing significant material damage but no human victims.

A British soldier died.
A British soldier died in a tragic incident, when, on August 26th, on the entrance in the city of Skopje, young people threw large stones on the NATO vehicle during which they caused severe injuries to the head of the soldier from the British contingent. The Ministry of defense condemned this act.

Two victims dead due to maltreatment.
The Albanian language newspaper "Fakti" reports of several cases of maltreatment of civilians, ethnic Albanians, by the police forces. Two of them, one from Saraj and the other from Ljuboten, died from the injuries. (Human Rights Watch report: Police abuse against Albanians continues in Macedonia August 22nd)

The blockade of the border crossing with Kosovo is still in effect.
A hundred Macedonians from the Tetovo villages of Lesok, Tearce and Neprosteno, organized by the World Macedonian Congress, block the border crossing to Kosovo from August 18th. A blockade of the border crossing Tabanovce on the border with Yugoslavia is being announced. Entrance and exit from Macedonia is forbidden to all vehicles belonging to international organizations.

Eight kidnapped ethnic Macedonians have been set free.
With the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, eight ethnic Macedonians that were kidnapped by the extremist's, were released on August 26th. Four of these, two civilians and two soldiers were released in Lipkovo. According to their statements the first six days were hard, after which they regularly received food and were not maltreated. Also, four civilians have been released from the village Radusa, one of which a USA citizen.

Political condition

The Alliance has brought the decision for the beginning of the operation "Necessary Harvest".
Joseph Ralston, the NATO commander for Europe visited Macedonia on August 20th, with the aim of gathering facts from the field for the beginning of the operation for gathering the armaments. The Headquarters of the joint forces for Europe, on August 22nd, issued an order for the starting of the mission "Necessary Harvest", after the North-Atlantic council in Brussels, approved the NATO mission in Macedonia.

The United Kingdom increased the number of its soldiers to 2,100.
The total number of soldiers that will take part in the operation is expected to surpass the predicted 3,500. The operation should begin on August 28th at 8 a.m. with the disarmament of the first members of the NLA in the village Otlja. The NLA provided a list of 3,500 pieces of different weapons. According to information by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the NLA has in its possession 60,000 pieces of armament and about 5,000,000 pieces of ammunition of different caliber. Greater part of the collected armaments will be destroyed in Greece and a lesser in Krivolak, Macedonia.

A possible political crisis.
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia submitted a proposal for relieving the Minister of justice from his duty, because he did not in appropriate time sign the extradition warrant for one Semi Hebibi, who is presumed to have made the attack on the police station in Tearce and after which the Macedonian government has signed an international wanted circular. The Minister of justice stated that all the required extradition documents were not submitted. The Party for Democratic Prosperity announced that if their Minister of justice is relieved of duty, they would withdraw all their Ministers and Parliament representatives.

Population census in April.
The Government of the Republic of Macedonia, because of the actual security condition in the country, passed a decision that the Committee in charge of the census to submit a proposal to the Parliament for Amendments to the Census Law, with rescheduling of the term for April 1st 2002, instead of October 2001.

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