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News 10 Dec 14

Blasts Shake Two Police Stations in Macedonia

Macedonian authorities confirmed that two explosions shook nearby police stations in the western part of the country on Tuesday night, adding that the sites were not directly attacked.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian police | Photo by: mvr

Authorities on Wednesday said two possibly synchronized blasts detonated shortly after 9pm Tuesday near police stations in the towns of Tetovo and Kumanovo in western and northern Macedonia. 

The two towns were at the centre of the 2001 armed conflict between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Macedonian security forces.

“The detonations were heard in the vicinity [of the police stations]. No damage was done. I cannot give more data until the examinations at the sites wrap up,” police spokesperson Ivo Kotevski told BIRN.

The blast in Tetovo took place near the fence of the police station courtyard. The blast in Kumanovo damaged a nearby car.

Police refused to say the two explosions were connected, or speculate on the reasons. Media reports suggested the blasts might have been caused by hand-grenades or home-made explosive devices.

The blasts are reminiscent of attacks on police stations carried out by ethnic Albanian militants in the 2001 armed conflict, which killed several police officers.

In late October, unknown assailants fired two explosive shells at the Macedonian government building in Skopje leaving marks on the façade.  More than a week later, a mysterious movement calling itself the National Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

Some linked the mysterious attack on the government building to the recent proclamation of an ethnic Albanian "Republic of Ilirida".

A few dozen ethnic Albanians gathered in Skopje in mid-September to hear a former politician, Nevzat Halili, read out a declaration of an Albanian "independent republic".

The 2001 armed conflict ended with the signing of the Ohrid Peace Accord later that same year, which foresaw constitutional changes providing greater rights and institutional integration for ethnic Albanians who make up about a quarter of the population.

The accord resulted in the Albanian fighters disarming and later forming a political party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, which todays sits in government. However, inter-ethnic relations remain fragile to this day.

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