Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Macedonia Ready To Blow?

Disturbing reports coming out of the Balkan nation of Macedonia.  Macedonian interior ministry troops have been shooting it out with ethnic Albanian rebels, evoking fears of a repeat of the 2001 insurgency in Macedonia.  Plus, arms, including rocket launchers, and 180 pounds of plastic explosives have been intercepted by Macedonia.  Even NATO, authors of the chaos in next door Kosovo has had to pay attention, saying it is "concerned" with recent developments in Macedonia.

Last Friday, Macedonian officials made a chilling announcement.


They had seized weapons, lots of weapons. 


Among them, 20 rocket launchers, three mortars, three anti-aircraft guns, 180 pounds of plastic explosives and hundreds of mines and grenades.


The Macedonians didn't just stumble on the weapons.  They seized them after battling 'gunmen'.


Reports said one person was wounded in the gun-battle. 


Macedonia's private Channel 5 TV station said the 'gunmen' fled into Kosovo.


Confusing things a bit, Kosovo officials announced seven people had been arrested in Kosovo village Begrats near Kacanik for illegal arms trade, Macedonian TV Sitel announced.


KFOR and Kosovo police carried out raids in two houses in the village, where they found weapons.


It was unclear if the gunmen were run-of-the-mill arms smugglers, or something more sinister. 


After a week, it turned out to be the latter. 


The National Liberation Army said it was involved in the April 29th gunbattle.


To boot, the terrorist group boasted to have killed a Macedonian soldier. 


Skopje had said no one was killed in the skirmish.


Who are the NLA?  Well they fought an insurgency inside Macedonia in 2001, and they have ties to the notorious Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA.


That 2001 uprising was centered in Tetovo.



As this video shows, tensions seem to simmer just below the surface in this particularly troubled part of the Balkans.



Ironically, Macedonia has recognized Kosovo's independence. 


To much fanfare in Brussels and Washington, the two 'countries' have even demarcated their border


In particular, the deal was meant to prevent the type of cross-border raid carried out last week. 


Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski hailed the move as "a great success for Macedonia, because we are closing the border issue that for years nobody could solve".


So much for intentions.
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