Eight police officers, 14 gunmen killed in two days of clashes in Macedonia
Police in Macedonia say eight officers and 14 gunmen have been killed in two days of clashes in the north of the Balkan country.
The clashes erupted in the Diva Naselba neighborhood in the northern Macedonian town of Kumanovo at dawn on Saturday and continued on Sunday, said a police spokesman, adding, “Eight police officers were killed and 37 were injured” in the shootout.
He added that 14 corpses in uniforms were found at the site of the clashes that belonged to the members of a “terrorist group.”
Meanwhile, Ivo Kotevski, the Macedonian Interior Ministry spokesman, announced the end of the operations in the town, saying that security forces arrested more than 30 other gunmen and also discovered a huge arsenal of weapons at the site.
“One of the most dangerous terrorists groups in the Balkans has been neutralized,” he added.
There were no identification documents on the bodies found, but their uniforms bore the insignia of the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), he added.
According to the Macedonian official, the armed men had entered the Balkan country earlier in the month in an attempt to carry out terrorist attacks.
Police officers stand guard while a family leaves the conflict zone in Kumanovo, May 9, 2015. ©AFP
EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn voiced “deep concern” over the flare-up of violence in Kumanovo, calling on all sides to exercise restraint.
“I urge all actors for utmost restraint. Any further escalation must be avoided, not the least in the interest of the overall stability in the country,” he said in a statement.
Following the incident, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov declared two days of mourning in the Balkan country, calling off all sports events and political gatherings.
The Kumanovo clashes came two weeks after a police watchtower on Macedonia’s northern border with Kosovo was attacked by 40 gunmen.