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Yugoslav soldiers patrol the border with Macedonia near the southern Serbian village of Miratovac August 9, 2001. Macedonian forces and ethnic Albanian rebels clashed in the northwestern city of Tetovo on Thursday, police said. Heavy detonations and rifle fire could be heard in the western side of Macedonia's second largest city. REUTERS/Stevan Lazarevic
The Macedonian government declared a day of mourning on august 9, 2001 for 10 soldiers killed in a rebel ambush the day before, with newspapers pessimistic about a new Western-brokered peace plan meant to avert a new Balkan war. (Reuters Graphic)
Bare chested Romany youths protest in Prilep, 160 km (100 miles) south-west from capital Skopje, August 9, 2001. A mosque and many Muslim stores were destroyed after news that Albanian extremists killed 10 Macedonian soldiers on the road between Skopje and Tetovo on Wednesday. All of the soldiers were from Prilep, and three of them were Romany. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski MACEDONIA OUT
A Macedonian family passes by one of many stores destroyed and burned in town of Prilep, 160 km (100 miles) south-west from capital Skopje, August 9, 2001. The mosque and many Moslem stores was destroyed after news that Albanian extremist killed 10 Macedonian soldiers on the road between Skopje and Tetovo yesterday morning. All soldiers are from city of Prilep. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski MACEDONIA OUT
A boy stands next to a poster of U.S. President George W. Bush by one of the many store's destroyed and burned in Prilep, 160 km (100 miles) south-west of Skopje, August 9, 2001. The mosque and many muslim stores were destroyed after news that Albanian extremist killed 10 Macedonian soldiers on the road between Skopje and Tetovo on Wednesday. All the soldiers were from Prilep. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski MACEDONIA OUT
Two workers clean up glass from a destroyed and looted shop in Skopje August 9, 2001. Macedonia hovered between war and peace Thursday after an agreement meant to end an ethnic Albanian rebellion was reached amid widespread violence. Western envoys, who had struggled to mediate a peace deal for 12 days, persuaded Macedonian and ethnic Albanian party leaders to initial the accord even as reports of heavy fighting came in from the western town of Tetovo. REUTERS/Oleg Popov
A burned Macedonian army truck which was attacked with a rocket propelled grenade by ethnic Albanian rebels lies gutted on the road linking the capital Skopje with the flashpoint town of Tetovo, August 9, 2001. Ethnic Albanian guerrillas killed 10 soldiers on Wednesday in an ambush at this spot, the bloodiest battle yet in their insurgency, just hours before negotiators from both sides of Macedonia's ethnic divide were to finalize a peace deal. REUTERS/str
A burned Macedonian army truck which was attacked with a rocket propelled grenade by ethnic Albanian rebels lies gutted on the road linking the capital Skopje with the flashpoint town of Tetovo on August 9, 2001. Macedonian jet forces bombed ethnic Albanian rebel positions after fighting flared, dimming hopes that a new peace plan could halt the bloodshed. (Reuters)
THE TERRORISTS ARE HOLDING US LIKE ANIMALS IN CAGE.
Macedonians from Vratnica under siege for one month
The Macedonians from Vratnica county say that theyll never abandon their homes if they wish to they can shoot us like dogs, we wont live, they say
Around 2,500 Macedonians from four mountainous villages in the county of Vratnica, Tetovo region, live for almost a month now under siege from the Albanian terrorists, without any contact with the outside world. The inhabitants from the villages of Vratnica, Belovishte, Rogachevo and Staro Selo, during days filled with fear and anticipation, heroically are trying to stay by their ancient fire-places. The Macedonians are fighting desperately to survive without food, medicines and basic items for personal hygiene. The only connection with the town of Tetovo, where they can buy supplies is the Jezhince-Tetovo road and this one isnt safe for the Macedonians.
The hardship and suffering of these people started one month ago, when extreme, well organized and armed Albanian terrorists started their large offensive for overtaking of territories inhabited by Macedonians in Tetovo county and their ethnic cleansing. Without any fighting and during the seeming cease-fire, the terrorists took control of the main road from Tetovo to Jazhince and in this moment are holding it under complete control. Monitoring stations and improvised bunkers are located on every twenty meters of the road. Above the road, hanging from phone cables are red flags with two-headed eagle. This is the case all the way up to Vratnica. By the entrance to the village there are barricades and few meters down the road is the security outpost of the Macedonian police.
Two days ago, the inhabitants of Vratnica County managed with desperate efforts to obtain a minimal humanitarian help. Two trucks from the divided convoy of the Macedonian Center for International Collaboration (MCMS) after long negotiations with the extremists from NLA, managed to during the evening hours enter the besieged zone and distribute help. Help was also delivered to ethnic Albanians from Jazhince.
We are desperate. I cannot believe this is happening to us. They hold us like animals in a cage, isolated from the entire living world. Weve no food, no medicines. Most horrifying is that we dont have basic products for around 30 babies aged 30 days to two years. Every night we hear shots coming from close by. They are trying to scare us and made us leave on our own will. Only during the day there is some movement and sometimes we go to the neighboring villages when they ask for help. My parents are kicked out of Tearce and whenever I call our family house a person answers in Albanian tells us through tears a Vratnice woman.
Macedonians from the Vranica County say theyll never leave their native land. If they wish to they can shoot us like dogs, we wont leave. They must be insane to think that well leave this beauty to them. These villages must not fall into their hands because through Jazhince they have a direct connection to Kosovo the villagers say.
Mr. Vasko Misajlovski, the villages mayor, tells us that the Macedonians from this region have always supported peaceful cohabitation.
We appeal to our government to immediately restore the peace in this region. To the ethnic Albanians we send a message that we are not for war and that we want to live as friends, the way we did before. They have forgotten that during the Kosovo crisis 100,000 refugees were sheltered by us in the name of humanism, cohabitation and good neighborhood. The road to Tetovo needs to be demilitarized immediately. The road should be bridging our communities through friendship and collaboration and not become a root to hatred and impatience. We appeal to the International Red Cross to help us. They came ten days ago, and we havent seen them since says Mr. Misajlovski.
The night before yesterday in the late hours when the convoy left Vratnica and Jazhince, Albanian terrorists in the vicinity of the Dobroshte village opened fire on the humanitarians. Luckily, there were no human casualties and most of the bullets ended damaging the freezer of one of the trucks, only couple of centimeters under the windshield. EU and OSCE vehicles were also a part of this humanitarian convoy.
Report by Emil Zafirovski