Ethnic Albanians clash with police in Macedonia

Riot police in Macedonia clashed on Saturday with ethnic Albanian protesters who torched a bus and attacked shops in a second day of violence triggered by the appointment of a former guerrilla fighter as defense minister.

Ethnic tensions continue to simmer in the impoverished former Yugoslav republic more than a decade since it was brought to the brink of civil war during an ethnic Albanian guerrilla insurgency.

Saturday’s violence, in which at least 20 people were injured and a dozen arrested, appeared to be a response to angry demonstrations by Macedonians late on Friday against the appointment last month of former guerrilla commander Talat Xhaferi as defense minister.

Several hundred ethnic Albanians in the capital, Skopje, torched a bus and several cars, and attacked shops. Police in riot gear fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse them, a Reuters photographer said.

“The situation is under control. A dozen people have been arrested, while the others fled,” said a police spokesman. “Police are on the ground and working on finding the others who took part. The material damage is great.”

Xhaferi was part of a guerrilla army that fought for greater rights and representation for Macedonia’s 25 percent ethnic Albanian minority.


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