Macedonia Uncovers Additional Weapons Stash
Unofficially local media reported that several armed and uniformed men who were guarding the weapons on Thursday opened fire on the special police forces after which they fled to Kosovo. Local A1 TV reported at least one armed man was wounded by police.
The arsenal of arms found yesterday reportedly contained many weapons, including machine guns, manual missile launchers, anti-tank mines, explosives, and detonators.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski said the police unit "Tigers" launched the operation on early Thursday following intelligence reports on stored weapons several kilometers northeast of Blace village near the Blace border crossing.
He informed that none of the police officers were injured during the action and that they are still on the ground searching for other bunkers that could possibly be hiding weapons.
A1 TV reported that the stash was hidden in a difficult to access densely forested mountain area and guarded by several armed men who were apparently camping there.
The television also reported that one man suffering from gunshot wounds yesterday asked for medical help in the Kosovo border village of Kacanik. Due to the seriousness of his wounds he was to be transported to Pristina but he fled after hearing the news.
According to unnamed police experts from the unit for illegal firearms trade, the seized arsenal in Macedonia does not date back to the 2001 Macedonia armed conflict. The number of weapons and their origin are still to be determined.
In 2001 this region was engulfed in the armed conflict between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Macedonian security forces. The six month conflict ended the same year with the signing of the Ohrid Peace Accord that envisaged greater rights for the ethnic Albanian community in the country. Among others it envisaged proportional employment of Albanians in the security forces and the administration.
The area around Blace was considered a hiding place for the armed insurgents.
Kosovo police also uncovered a weapons cache in Kosovo on Thursday, but the two busts have not been linked.