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Shootings and Arson In Tetovo.


Tetovo, January 2 (MIA) - Some longer-lasting shootouts were heard Tuesday morning in Tetovo crisis region. Frequent rifle and sporadic fire was also registered over the night, reported MIA's correspondent.

According to the police and army sources, the firings came mostly from the Tetovo Teke, from the surrounding area of the elementary schools Kiril and Method and Bratstvo Migjeni, from the SEE University, the Medical Center, the building where the EU offices are situated, Drenovec 2 settlement, from some residential areas near the canyon of Pena Rver, as well as from the settlement no. 82. The terrorists opened fire also from the villages Mala Recica, Gajre, Selce, Celopek, Ciflik, Neraste, Odri, Prsovce, Poroj, Trbos, Strimnica, Kalatnica and Ozormiste.

The Macedonian security forces did not respond to these shootouts, as they were directed towards some undetermined targets.

The fire that broke out in the national reformatory in Tetovo, is not put off completely yet. According to the Manager of the reformatory, Gordana Simovska, enormous material damage was caused to the main building of this complex. For security reasons, the investigation on site has not been performed yet.

Macedonian ethnic leader working on new image.


Former guerrilla who led minority rebels must overcome bitterness, criminal charges.

Reuters News Agency
Wednesday, January 2, 2002 Page A10

SIPKOVICA, MACEDONIA -- The man who remade Macedonia with a seven-month guerrilla uprising pads about a remote mountain home in slippers these days, waiting for an amnesty to parlay the new peace into a political career.

Ali Ahmeti became a folk hero among ethnic Albanians in the homeland he had not seen for 17 years after he slipped back from exile in Switzerland and fought the government into a deal on equal rights, eclipsing the conventional leadership of his community.

He transformed his National Liberation Army from "a bunch of murderous thugs," as NATO's Secretary-General, Lord Robertson, once called it, into a dutiful peace partner by having his men turn in almost 4,000 weapons to North Atlantic Treaty Organization collectors, then demobilize.

Since then, Mr. Ahmeti, 43, has kept the NLA fraternity calm despite the government's delay in implementing the peace terms.

Mr. Ahmeti wants to enter politics, but his fear of arrest, given the government's refusal to pardon him as it did lesser guerrillas, confines him to the police-free northwestern mountains from where he commanded the insurgency.

Mr. Ahmeti must contend with profound Macedonian bitterness over the reform of the constitution "at gunpoint."

So he is trying to change his image from "Albanian-terrorist" to pro-European Union civic reformer appealing to people across the ethnic divide, weary of incompetent governance.

He has declared himself a "social democrat" seeking to end what he calls a corrupt system of sharing the spoils of power that eroded the reforming zeal of ethnic Albanian party leaders after they were ushered into governing coalitions.

"So far, politicians in this country have sought power for personal profit. I mean Albanian politicians, too," he said in the borrowed home tucked away down an alley in the highland village of Sipkovica.

"What Macedonia needs is a social democratic party, not just for Macedonians or for Albanians but for all the people, as in [multiethnic] Switzerland."

"People in Macedonia need to be released from this ethnic mind-set, to have parties based not on ethnicity or nationalism but on the quality of their programs and policy. This is how Macedonia will enter the European Union and achieve modern European standards.

"This is really the ultimate desire of both Albanians and Macedonians, and the reforms we had to fight for bring the whole country closer to it."

The former guerrilla chieftain knows he cannot emerge from the political wilderness unless the Macedonian government drops a "war-crimes" indictment against him, which international diplomats in Macedonia have dismissed as spurious and divisive.

Born in Kicevo in southwest Macedonia when it was still a Yugoslav republic, Mr. Ahmeti began agitating in high school for the right to study in the Albanian language.

"I signed a petition and had three teeth broken by the police for that."

He spent time in jail, then attended Pristina University in Kosovo, just as its majority Albanians were turning militantly nationalist in a gathering storm against Yugoslav repression.

He went into hiding in 1984, "when they came to arrest me." He fled to Switzerland, where he obtained political asylum.

When Macedonia won independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Mr. Ahmeti was denied citizenship.

But by 1998, he had resurfaced in the Kosovo Liberation Army, the uprising of which brought about NATO intervention, a Serbian pullout and ethnic Albanian autonomy under United Nations administration.

Mr. Ahmeti won't talk about links between the KLA and NLA, but many NLA fighters were KLA veterans, although mainly natives of Macedonia, and most NLA arms were smuggled from Kosovo.

Political analysts believe Macedonia's conflict was caused, in part, by the return of KLA veterans such as Mr. Ahmeti, disgruntled at being largely frozen out of power-sharing in Kosovo, now dominated by non-KLA moderates.

The second-class-citizen status of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia galvanized the NLA, and Mr. Ahmeti's leadership drew lessons from the failings of KLA extremists in Kosovo.

There were no known, deliberate killings of non-Albanian civilians and there was no pattern of violence to seize assets and territory.

The demobilized rebels have allowed Macedonian police, now ethnically mixed, to resume patrols in Albanian-majority areas, under close monitoring by NATO, the EU and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

They say they are keen to reintegrate in a reformed Macedonia.

"We rigorously controlled this conflict to avoid a large-scale civil war.

"We did not fight for a parallel army and institutions.

"We have always opposed the terrorist way of acting," Mr. Ahmeti said.



Karlovo (Southern Bulgaria), January 2 (BTA) - The first batch of 19 servicemen of a company which will ensure the security, defence and safe entry post of the SFOR headquarters at the Butmir-Sarajevo camp left Wednesday for Sarajevo, said the 61st Stryama mechanized brigade of Karlovo command.

The Bulgarian servicemen will carry out preparatory tasks for the deployment of the Bulgarian unit which will join the SFOR operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The operation is carried out on a mandate of the UN Security Council under NATO command.

Under a Cabinet decision ratified by Parliament on December 19, 2001, a Bulgarian guard company of 150 servicemen chosen on a voluntary principle will take part in the SFOR operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the course of one year.


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