Macedonia mourns 8 dead police officers after Kumanovo clash

Macedonia mourning over eight dead police officers killed in Kumanovo clash with Albanian militants

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Macedonia began two days of mourning for eight police officers who were killed in the northeastern town of Kumanovo in an armed conflict on Saturday morning.

The armed conflict in Kumanovo near the Serbian and Kosovan border started when police conducted a raid against an armed group which was suspected of planning attacks on civilians and government targets.

After the raid was over, the Interior Ministry of Macedonia confirmed that 8 police officers and 14 terrorist were dead due to the armed conflict between them. 37 police officers were also injured during the clash.

While the clash took place, Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic sent troops from its Gendarmerie and Anti-Terrorist Unit to secure the border and ensure the stability of the region.

Stefanovic said the Macedonian police dealt with the threat in Kumanovo well.

“We have to act responsibly in order to show all those who are thinking about possible terrorist attacks on Serbia that they will be stopped quickly and efficiently,” Stefanovic said.

After the Kumanovo operation was over, Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski said the killed attackers were from the dismantled Kosovo Liberation Army.

"More than 30 terrorists, mainly Macedonian nationals and one from Albania, surrendered yesterday [Saturday] to the police forces," Mr Kotevski added.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg also advised everyone in the country “to exercise restraint and avoid any further escalation, in the interest of the country and the whole region.”

After the declaration of official mourning, both the European Union and NATO called for calm in the region which faced turmoil in 2001 after an uprising by ethnic Albanians in the region.

The attack came three weeks after 40 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo demanded the creation of an Albanian state in Macedonia by partially gaining control of a police station located near the northern border of Macedonia.

EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said, “Any further escalation must be avoided, not the least in the interest of the overall stability in the country.”

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