8 police officers, 14 gunmen killed in Macedonia

Police confirmed 8 officers and 14 gunmen killed in heavy clashes in Macedonia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Government officials have said at least eight police officers and 14 member of an “armed group” have been killed after a day-long clash in northern Macedonia on Sunday.

Another seven police officers have been injured raising the total from 30 to 37, however, no civilians have been reported injured or killed.

Ivo Kotevski, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, has confirmed that 20 members of the group have surrendered adding that “one of the most dangerous terrorists groups in the Balkan has been neutralised.”

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that members of the armed group would face Macedonian justice.

Gruevski is currently under pressure of allegedly police-brutality and illegal wiretapping.

The government and opposition are blaming each other over the instability in the country as violent clashes started a day after thousands of opposition supporters protested against police brutality.

Following the deaths of the eight police officers, the government has declared a two day mourning nationwide and despite the political tension, President Gjorge Ivanov called for a national security meeting inviting opposition leaders and ethnic Albanian leaders as an act of unity.

Clashes erupted after police officers conducted an early morning raid on the armed group who are believed to have entered Kumanovo from Kosovo planning to attack local police stations.

Three weeks ago 40 ethnic Albanian from Kosovo demanded the creation of an Albanian state in Macedonia by partially gaining control of a police station located in the northern border of Macedonia.

Kumanovo is near the Macedonian capital city of Skopje, where a large Albanian community resides.

Kumanovo was the site of armed conflicts in May 2001 when the Albanian unrest in the country began.

Local residents were seen fleeing the area many children and women were evacuated by police.

An unidentified ethnic Albanian man told Macedonian television that “[he] thought it would never come to this again,” referring to the 2001 conflict.

After the 2001 conflict, the ethnic Albanian community separated themselves from the rest of society and established their own schools.

Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia consist of over 25 percent of the population and mainly live in a region which is close to the Albanian and Kosovan borders.


TRTWorld and agencies