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Macedonian special police convoy travel along the road to the village of Trebosh to secure the site of a mass grave near the village of Trebosh November 12, 2001. On Monday three policeman were killed during another attempt to secure the place. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
Macedonian special police arrive at the scene where three policemen from a special unit had been killed overnight on the road to the village of Trebosh November 12,2001 as they tried to secure the site of a suspected mass grave. Ethnic Albanians freed on Monday 39 Macedonian hostages seized in a retaliation for a special charge into an area inhabited by a disbanded guerillas, as Western mediators scrambled to save a crumbling peace accord. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
Macedonian special police reinforcements deploy near village of Trebos, 5 kms (3,5 miles) east of the northwestern town of Tetovo, Macedonia, Monday, Nov. 12, 2001. Three Macedonian special police officers were killed and three more wounded in an ambush set by ethnic Albanian rebels Sunday night in a sudden escalation of violence in the Tetovo area. About 100 Macedonians who were held hostage Sunday by ethnic Albanian militants, were released Monday with assistance of NATO troops and OSCE workers. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Macedonian special police officers take position beside an armored vehicle, in which three police officers were killed, near the village of Semsovo some six miles northeast of the northwestern town of Tetovo, Macedonia, Monday, Nov. 12, 2001. Three Macedonian special police officers were killed and three more wounded in an ambush set by ethnic Albanian rebels Sunday night in a sudden escalation of violence in the Tetovo area. About 100 Macedonians who were held hostage Sunday by ethnic Albanian militants, were released Monday with assistance of NATO troops and OSCE workers. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
German soldier guards the gate as Macedonians civilians leave the NATO base at Erebino, 10 kms (7 miles) east of the northwestern town of Tetovo, Macedonia, Monday, Nov. 12, 2001. About 100 Macedonians who were held hostage Sunday by ethnic Albanian militants, were released Monday with assistance of NATO troops and OSCE workers. Three Macedonian special police officers were killed and three more wounded Sunday night in a sudden escalation of violence in the Tetovo area. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Macedonian special police force in armored vehicle, move toward the village of Trebos, 5 kms (3.5 miles) east of the northwestern of Tetovo, Macedonia, Monday, Nov. 12, 2001. Three Macedonian special police officers were killed and three more wounded in an ambush set by ethnic Albanian rebels Sunday night in a sudden escalation of violence in the Tetovo area. About 100 Macedonians who were held hostage Sunday by ethnic Albanian militants, were released Monday with assistance of NATO troops and OSCE workers. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
He, The Voter. This Bulgarian's name is Ilko Panev. He has been unemployed for 10 years and is a restorer by profession. He is searching for job every day for a wage of 5 levs a day, but the competition is merciless. Yesterday, after casting his ballot in Mladost 4 residential district, Ilko saw a stray dog and hunted for some food for the dog in the trash containers. This is the 21st c. Bulgarian. Photo Nikolay Donchev
ANA or NLA, Macedonian Citizens Are Held Hostage.
From reliable sources, Reality Macedonia finds out that ANA is responsible for yesterdays attack, kidnapping and the death of three policemen. This news was announced in Pristina, Kosovo-SRJ. They are calling all Albanians in Macedonia to arm themselves and to take action, because they are not satisfied with the agreement reached in Ohrid. They started the attack and the kidnapping because of the arrest of 7 terrorists earlier yesterday.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the plan was to secure the region around one of the possible mass graves for the announced exhumation, the police were stopping cars for regular check-ups. The police checked several cars and found that 7 persons were in unauthorized possession of weapons and explosive materials. The fact that they are terrorists was brought up after the police checked their documents.
Besides the fact that ANA took the responsibility for the kidnapping and the attacks yesterday, the representatives of NATO, OSCE, and EC monitors were leading negotiations directly with the leader of the NLA, Ali Ahmeti. After these negotiations,some of the Macedonian hostages were released.
From unofficial sources Reality Macedonia finds out that due to the security of the Macedonians kidnapped by the Albanian terrorists one NLA representative was allowed to visit the 7 arrested terrorists to see that they are alive.
Yesterdays attack was coordinated by Gzim Ostreni the top NLA commander.
So-Called Ana Takes Responsibility For Murder Of The Three Macedonian Policemen.
Pristina, November 12 (MIA) - The so-called Albanian National Army (ANA) Monday has taken the responsibility for the murder of the three Macedonian policemen that were killed in Sunday's shootings with the Albanian terrorists near the village of Trebos, MIA reports.
Spokesperson of the so-called ANA Alban Beris sent a written statement to the office of the German News Agency (DPA) in Pristina, in which besides the murder of the three Macedonian policemen has taken the responsibility for kidnapping of Macedonian civilians in Tetovo region.
"Macedonian policemen have been killed Sunday night in the shootings with our units, lead by commander Skiponja 5," reads the statement.
LJUBE BOSKOVSKI: MURDER OF THE POLICEMEN IS HORRIBLE ACT.
The murder of the three Macedonian policemen is "horrible act" which happened in the time when the legal state should have start to function again, Minister of Interior Ljube Boskovski stated after the meeting of the Macedonian top officials that ended early Monday.
"This act happened when the police should have secured the place where it is considered that the mass grave is located, and the investigators, the Chief Prosecutor's Office, the investigation judge, the representative of the Hague Tribunal and the forensic medicine experts to be able to conduct the regular activities. A consensus with the representatives of the international community has been reached for entrance of the security forces in order to protect this area," Minister Boskovski said.
Three killed policemen are members of the police patrol and are part of the forces that Sunday entered the village of Trebos aimed to secure the road and the place for normal contacts. The policemen are attacked from ambush with hand grenades and "zolja" launchers on the only way that leads to Zilce, Ratae, Siricino, Vratnica and Jegunovce.
Boskovski said that at this moment there are no armed actions but after midnight the post of the Macedonian security forces near cable car in Tetovo has been attacked at which it has been severely responded.
"Macedonia has done everything: we are carrying out the President Trajkovski's peace plan, we have the Framework Agreement, the disarmament of the so-called NLA and Sunday night we have witnessed the arrest of the commanders, which is a proof that the 112 NLA brigade still functions. They have automatic guns and pistols. This means that everything that happened so far was a farce that was presented by the international community which should bear the responsibility," Boskovski said.
Macedonia should not lose hope after the murder of the policemen but it should prepare for definite strike against the bandits or to admit that it can not cope with them and that it needs assistance."
Regarding the civilians that have been kidnapped in the Tetovo region Sunday night, Minister of Interior informed that the EU special envoy Alain Le Roy mediates for their liberation.
Boskovski said that 16 persons are kidnapped out of whom 3 are liberated and expressed hope that the rest of the kidnapped persons will be freed Monday.
He said that Macedonia cannot exchange the terrorists, arrested late Sunday, for the kidnapped Macedonians. "This must not become an everyday happening because if the kidnapping is the way for solving of the problems then it may happen revolted civilians to start to use this method," he said.
On the question what is happening with the Macedonian civilians in Semsevo who are taken hostages, he said that Macedonian security forces are deployed in the village so he considers that there will be no problems there.
Regarding the accusation that he deployed the special police forces "on his hand" due to which the incidents happened, Boskovski said this has been concluded by those that do not want to bear the responsibility.
"I am always prepared to bear the responsibility. You are all witness that everything has been agreed Sunday and that there was no need of the involvement of the Army in something that was agreed to be secured in normal conditions," he said.
Boskovski remanded that the representatives of the international community for entrance of the Macedonian security forces are negotiating seven days, and besides that pain he feels at this moment he will not give up from the drafted plan.
He announced that the exhumation procedure of the grave, where it is claimed that the bodies of the kidnapped Macedonians are buried, will continue.
On the question whether it is possible to expect proclamation of state of war on territories of armed actions, Minister of Interior said that with the latest incidents, the farce of the international community for "disarmament" of the terrorists and that there are no armed groups in the country and no entrance of those groups, is definitely revealed. "This is classical ambush which can happen to us at this point too," warned Boskovski.
Interior Ministry Announcement-Explains The Arrest Of The Seven-Armed Persons On Sunday.
Skopje, November 12 (MIA) - Ministry of Interior affairs gave the announcement today which explains the arrest of the seven-armed persons on Sunday.
During the Sunday's routine control and in the presence of the NATO's "Amber Fox " mission soldiers, MVR has arrested seven persons, fully armed and with loaded automatic weapons, ready to attack our security forces.
The arrested persons, as stated in the announcement, drove three motor vehicles.
In one of the vehicles, "Opel Askona" with registration plates number TE 090 - BI, with plates confirmed to be of another transport vehicle by the label of "Opel Vektra", property of ''Ata Komerc, an automatic shot gun by the label of 'CZ' were discovered on the front seat. Two fully charged chargers of monition caliber 7,62mm, two empty chargers, one "CZ" gun, caliber 7, 62 mm, bullet frame with eight bullets were also found there. On the back seat there were also a belt and a case with a gun by the label of "Broving" with a nine-mm caliber and two frames containing 14 bullets.
Inside the second motor vehicle "Opel Senator" with registration plates TE-741-ax, taken out from another motor vehicle by the label of "Ford Taunus", an automatic gun shot, product of China, caliber 38 mm and one officer briefcase containing documents.
It has been confirmed that the registration plates TE-728-BI, placed at the backside of the third vehicle "Ford Sierra", are of PMB 'Mercedes', property of the 'Golec Trans' from Zelino village. The plates were reported as canceled on September 27 this year.
During the ID check out, MVR has stated that Izair Samii, the so-called commander Surli, suspected of the attack on the police station in Tearce, for kidnapping and abusing of Macedonian civilians was arrested. Nuhi Mustafi, so-called commander Solana from the village of Prsovce, responsible for ethnic cleaning, Jetmir Vejtuli, responsible for the explosion in the hotel 'Brioni' in Celopek, where two Macedonian civilians were killed, Muzafer Zekiri, the so-called commander Vedi of the village of Semsevo, the juvenile delicvent F.F from Zelino, resident of Skopje, Skodran Idrizi also from Zelino, member of the ONA military police and Arben Jakupi from the village of Neprosteno, are susspected of kidnapping the Macedonian civilians.
The arrested persons will be held in prison for 30 days. They are well known to the Macedonian security forces. Criminal charges have been brought against them for the crimes against humanity and the International law, which is under the jurisdiction of the Hauge Tribunal.
Exhumation At Tetovo Village Trebos Postponed.
Skopje, 12 November (MIA) - The Exhumation of the bodies of the kidnapped Macedonian civilians, which according to eye-witnesses, are bared near the Tetovo village of Trebos, will not begin today, because of the dispute with the Huge Tribunal representatives.
The Huge Tribunal asks the exhumation process to be postponed for two days.
According to the Macedonian TV During the afternoon hours, the representatives of OSCE and Nato's "Amber Fox " mission has left the spot. Shift of the Ministry's members has been conducted, according to the planed agreement for the exhumation. The security forces are staying on the terrain to secure the location.
PRESIDENT TRAJKOVSKI APPEALS FOR MAXIMUM RESTRAIN.
In regard to the events that happened in the past several days, especially yesterday's murder of three police officers near the village of Trebos in the Tetovo area, President of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski appeals to the Macedonian citizens for maximum restrain.
According to sources from the President's Cabinet, President's highest priority is passing of the constitutional amendments in the Parliament.
According to the President, future expansion of the military clashes must not be allowed.
Sources from President's Cabinet said that Trajkovski's position was that the Macedonian security forces ought to be engaged in protecting the civic population and the national borders, and that they must not allow to be provoked by the terrorists, who just wait for excuse for their criminal actions."
Solely thanks to President Trajkovski's efforts, all kidnapped persons have been released.
Last evening, President Trajkovski talked to Euro-commissioner Javier Solana, NATO Secretary General George Robertson and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. They all called for maximum restrain and soon passing of the constitutional amendments.
Regarding the terrorist attacks near Drebos, President Trajkovski thinks that this is a signal that the terrorists have not been disarmed neither disbanded.
According to him, the international community must not ignore or try to conceal this fact.
"The murder of three police officers, kidnappings and provocations show the intention of the terrorists to win new territories and to mark borderlines of the territories they already control," sources from President's Cabinet said.
On Sunday, President Trajkovski intermediated in the talks between the international community officials in Macedonia and Minister of Interior Ljube Boskovski and Public Prosecutor Stavre Dzikov. The talks were focused only on the location of the alleged mass grave where bodies of 12 kidnapped Macedonians are allegedly buried.
By the end of the day, the NATO "Amber Fox" troops are to secure the location around Neprosteno village and the number of Macedonian police officers to be drastically reduced.
The same source said that President Trajkovski was not informed on yesterday's arrest of seven commanders of the so-called NLA, nor he authorized the operation. Last night, NATO officially requested the seven commanders to be released, which was categorically rejected. Chief of the International Committee of the Red Cross Francois Stam was allowed to pay them a visit.
At yesterday's meeting with the state leadership, also attended by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, assembly chairman Stojan Andov, Minister of Interior Ljube Boskovski, General of the Police Risto Galev, Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski, Chief of the Army Staff Metodi Stamboliski, EU envoy alain Le Roy and other officials, President Trajkovski categorically rejected the suggestions for military response to the attacks in the Tetovo area.
Sources from President's cabinet say that Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski was for different approach to the resolving of the situation, while Prime Minister Georgievski and Parliament Chairman stood for military action.
The same sources say that the NATO representative Robert Serry had a great role in the calming of the situation.
Yesterday in Sipkovica, Serry met with former political representative of the so-called NLA Ali Ahmeti, and have made strong pressure on DPA and PDP to vote for the constitutional amendments.
Explaining yesterday's incident in Neprosteno, source from President's Cabinet said that yesterday's entry of the police in this village was not in the framework of the regular police activities, because this village is not included in the pilot-plan for re-entry of the police in the regions impacted by the crisis.
Names Of Killed Police Officers.
Skopje, November 12 (MIA) Drago Manevski  and Boban Trpkov  from Skopje, and Oliver Petrusevski  from Kumanovo are the three members of the Macedonian Police, who were killed Sunday night near Tetovo village Trebos after fire of missile launchers and zolja was opened, Macedonian Radio reports.
As MIA reports, three other members of the Macedonian security forces were injured and transferred to the Clinical Center in Skopje.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski sent telegrams with condolences to the families of killed policemen.
Around 60 members of the special police forces "Lions" were sent to Tetovo region in order to secure the exhumation of the mass grave where it is believed that the bodies of the kidnapped and murdered Macedonians by the Albanian terrorists near Trebos and Neprosteno were buried. The exhumation should begin on Monday.
Situation In Tetovo Area.
Tetovo, November 12 (MIA) Monday afternoon, at 217.20h, a strong detonation was heard in Tetovo, coming from the southwest part of the city, MIA's correspondent reported.
According to the Tetovo police department, the explosion came as result of a mortar fired by the Albanian terrorists from the Tetovo Teke locality, which went off just near a police post located next to the Muslim graveyard.
The markets, most of the shops and the taxi services in Tetovo were not operational today, and the citizens withdrew to their homes long before the curfew which starts at 22.30h.
MACEDONIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY STARTS EXHUMATION PROCEDURE.
Expert teams from the Macedonian Interior Ministry with prior consent of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, started Sunday the exhumation of the bodies from the mass grave. According to the information six of the twelve kidnapped Macedonians have been buried there.
According to the announcement from Interior Ministry, the first stage of the procedure is to secure the locality, where the mass grave is believed to be.
After the completion of this stage the exhumation procedure will continue in cooperation with the experts from Forensic Medicine Institute and Hague Tribunal and in the presence of Macedonian Public Prosecutor Stavre Dzikov.
The exhumation of the bodies from the crypt, which is claimed to contain the 12 kidnapped Macedonians by the members of the so-called NLA, will begin on Monday or Tuesday at the latest.
This was agreed at Sunday's meeting of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski with Minister of Interior Ljiube Boskovski, State Public Prosecutor Stavre Djikov and EU, NATO and OSCE representatives.
"The most important thing at the moment is to provide space and guaranty safety for people that will perform the process of exhumation", Minister of Interior Boskovski stated after the meeting.
For him, the most important thing is that President Trajkovski was clear in his attitude that exhumation was "a technical issue".
"This attitude of President Trajkovski confirms that Macedonia is a sovereign state and that Macedonian legislation is implemented in it", Boskovski said.
Asked whether we could expect a swift return of Macedonian security forces in the regions, where Albanian terrorists are situated, Boskovski said, "that is our wish, but there is pressure from the international community". "Macedonia is a sovereign state and all its parts will have to be integrated", Boskovski stressed.
State Public Prosecutor Stavre Djikov stated that international representatives were clearly shown that the Public Prosecutor's Office is a legal institution, which is obliged to perform inspection after knowledge for perpetrated crimes.
"An investigation judge, prosecutor from Tetovo and senior prosecutor will be present during the exhumation", Djikov said. "I hope that the proceedings, which we, as an institution, as well as the relatives of the kidnapped persons ask for, will begin on Sunday", Djikov stressed.
"Unfortunately, I have to announce that the Macedonian agony continues, because there are structures that continue to directly or indirectly assist the bandit associations that blackmail us. We agreed on holding a new meeting, after the meeting of the crisis management and Coordination body", Macedonian Minister of Interior Ljube Boskovski stated on Saturday evening.
The statement comes as a result of the meeting with representatives of the Hague Tribunal, the international community, Republic Public Prosecutor Stavre Djikov and Manager of the Institute of Forensics Aleksej Duma, at which the plan for exhumation of the bodies of the 12th kidnapped Macedonians was reviewed.
According to Boskovski, this is a situation of prolongation, which is shocking for the representatives of the Hague Tribunal.
He informed that a consensus for exhumation was reached, but the date and time would be politically determined.
"In this hard situation in which Macedonia finds itself, because we have to accept something that is not within our regulations, the Macedonian Constitution, Internal Affairs Law and common law", Minister stressed.
In concern with the presence of US Special Envoy in Macedonia James Pardew at the meeting, Boskovski expressed his astonishment, saying that he did not know why Pardew and some other people that were not supposed to attend the meeting appeared along with the legal representatives of the Hague Tribunal, which is under the UN jurisdiction.
"Mr. Pardew has a completely different mission for implementation of the Framework Agreement and adoption of constitutional changes", Minister said.
"I am surprised and shocked by the attitude of the representatives of the international community, who act as if they have absolute authorization to interfere in the work of other bodies", Boskovski stated.
He reminded "it was the UN which established the Hague Tribunal and they are here to lead the investigation. The terrain is being observed during the day, when in was concluded that it was safe and that security forces can come on Monday and start the exhumation".
"As Minister of Interior, I promise that either the exhumation and entrance of security forces according to the plan of President Trajkovski will begin, or I will ask for some structures to change their mandate in the Republic of Macedonia", Minister stressed, and expressed his hope that at Sunday's meeting of the Coordination Body, chaired by President Trajkovski, this issue would be cleared up.
He also announced that President Trajkovski wanted the action to be hastened "because this does not take Macedonia anywhere".
Asked when would the Macedonian security forces respond to the provocations of the Albanian terrorists, Minister said, "Macedonian forces will respond when they are ordered to, but if Albanian terrorists continue with the provocations, they will be considered as legitimate targets and our forces will have to respond".
The process for 24 hours police patrols in the villages included in the pilot-program for return of the security forces in the crisis regions will start Monday, announces the Macedonian Interior Ministry.
The police will perform its tasks according to the peace plan of the Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and in compliance with the competencies and duties of the Interior Ministry.
MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT STRONGLY CONDEMNS MURDER OF POLICEMEN.
The Macedonian Government strongly condemned the terrible act of murdering three Macedonian policemen and the kidnapping and maltreatment of the civilians.
"This act makes us wonder whether those problems we have considered as closed such as the disarmament of the Albanian terrorists and the cease-fire, show on the worst possible way that the process has not been completed yet," spokesman of the Macedonian Government Gjorgji Trendafilov stated for MIA.
According to Trendafilov "the seriousness of the situation urges to be moderate in the statements, especially of those that are party's motivated and are addressed to the security forces, as they should continue their legal duties and prevent the further escalation of the violence.
86TH SESSION ON CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY.
The continuation of the 86th parliamentary session on the constitutional changes is scheduled for Tuesday as PDP has changed its position.
EU special envoy Alain le Roy has submitted written notice to Parliament speaker Stojan Andov reading that PDP would vote in favor of the Framework agreement, including the new Preamble and draft-amendment on status of religious communities.
Andov submitted this written notice to all parliamentary groups and he expects the ratification of the draft-amendments to end soon.
The 88th session of the Macedonian Parliament where 101 items mainly from the economic sphere are on the agenda was interrupted in order Parliament speaker Stojan Andov to decide whether 88th session or the 86th session on the constitutional amendments should continue. The 88th session will be additionally scheduled.
United States Condemned The Murder Of The Macedonian Policemen.
Skopje, 12 November (MIA) - United States condemns the Sunday's violence in Tetovo area and expresses their condolences to the families of those killed or injured in this tragic event.
According to the American Embassy announcement today, "The US deeply regrets the events which happened after the deployment of the Macedonian Interior Forces in the crises region."
The United States calls upon refrain from any kind of violence, complete adoption of the Framework Agreement by the Parliament, and return to the reestablishing process of the political stability and security in the Republic of Macedonia.
The United States welcomed the announcement by the Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity, which will vote in favor of the Framework Agreement with its changes.
"US calls all the parties to support the constitutional changes for encouraging the peace process," says in the announcement.
The American Embassy in Skopje adds that the U.S. Special envoy, James Pardew, who stayed in the country during last week to encourage the passage of the constitutional changes included in the Ohrid agreement, returns to Washington.
France Regrets The Killing Of The Macedonian Policeman.
Paris, 12 November (MIA) - France has expressed its condolences regarding Sandy's murder of the three Macedonian policemen by the Albanian terrorists in Tetovo area, says MIA.
"The most important thing now for Macedonia is to continue with the process of constitutional changes, without any delay," said the deputy -spokesman of the France Interior Ministry, Bernard Valero.
According to Valero, the attitude of France is that only urgent implementation of the framework Agreement could secure the co-life and keep the territorial integrity and unity of the country.
39 Kidnapped Macedonians Released.
Skopje, November 12 (MIA) With the efforts and the engagement of the Macedonian Defense Ministry in coordination with NATO i.e. "Amber Fox" mission, EU and OSCE the 39 persons kidnapped in Tetovo region by the Albanian terrorists were released Monday.
"The Defense Ministry made efforts and had intensive contacts with NATO representatives i.e. the German contingent of "Amber Fox" mission that had their representatives in Tetovo region in order to release the kidnapped persons. The released persons were medically examined in Erebino military camp," spokesman of the Defense Ministry Marjan Gjurovski stated for MIA.
The three women kidnapped near Semsevo were released Sunday night, while the other 17 persons from Semsevo out of whom seven were kidnapped from Poroj, as well as 12 persons that were taken as hostages in Drenovec were released Monday morning.
"The kidnapped are now liberated and according to their initial statements are in good medical condition," Gjurovski said.
Macedonia police killed in ambush.
Three Macedonian police officers have been killed in an ambush by ethnic Albanian gunmen in the north-west of the country.
Macedonian state television reported that the officers died near the village of Trebos, near Tetovo, after an operation to take control of an alleged mass grave.
Officials quoted by Reuters news agency say the officers died when they came under a rocket attack.
Shooting has also been reported in other villages around the town of Tetovo.
The BBC's Nicholas Wood in Pristina says the violence is the most serious incident in the country since early August, when ethnic Albanian and Macedonian politicians signed a peace deal designed to end seven months of conflict.
The deaths followed the deployment of an elite police unit in the region by Macedonia's Interior Minister, Ljube Boskovski, a fierce opponent of the peace process.
The Macedonian cabinet met on Sunday night to discuss the crisis, as Mr Boskovski warned that "Macedonia has been attacked one more time and we have to fight back fiercely".
Interior Ministry officials said the police officers' task was to seize control of the alleged mass grave and arrest former ethnic Albanian guerrillas.
It is believed the grave is that of 12 Macedonians killed by ethnic Albanians during the recent conflict.
Local reports say seven ethnic Albanians were arrested in spite of an amnesty declared by the Macedonian Government for members of the guerrilla army.
Hours later, police say 12 ethnic Macedonians were taken hostage, although three - two women and a young girl - were later released.
But Macedonian television reported that dozens of Macedonian civilians were held hostage by ethnic Albanians in the village of Semsovo near Trebos in protest at the police operation.
The Macedonian Information Agency says President Boris Trajkovski has appealed for the release of the hostages.
The violence erupted just as Macedonia's parliament was expected to ratify the August peace deal after three months of debate. The session set for Monday was cancelled due to the latest escalation.
Peace process delayed
The ethnic Albanian insurrection began in February but guerrillas voluntarily disarmed in a Nato-led operation after a peace deal was struck in August.
A former rebel commander, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, said that the disbanded group, the National Liberation Army, was not involved in the hostage-taking incidents.
Nato spokesman Craig Ratcliff said: "We are monitoring the situation. The international community is very concerned about this, but for now it's an internal issue."
Macedonia hawk demands crackdown.
Macedonian special police sealed off a suspected grave.
Macedonia's hardline interior minister has called for a decisive strike against ethnic Albanian rebels, after the death of three police officers and a spate of kidnappings.
Ljube Boskovski said the killings showed that the rebels were active despite their promise to disband, and described the peace process as a "farce".
The officers were killed in clashes during a big police operation near the northern city of Tetovo.
They had already sparked fears of a possible renewal of full-scale conflict even before Mr Boskovski's call for an offensive.
The aim of the police operation was to seize control of an alleged mass grave thought to contain the bodies of Macedonian villagers.
The officers also arrested a group of suspected rebels, despite an amnesty approved by the government last month.
The rebels responded by taking dozens of hostages, but officials later said everyone detained had been freed.
Sunday's events marked the worst upsurge in violence since an August peace deal ended a six-month insurgency by ethnic Albanians, who make up about one third of the population.
Mr Boskovski said Macedonia had done everything to carry out President Trajkovski's peace plan.
Peace process criticised
"This means that everything that happened so far was a farce that was presented by the international community, which should bear the responsibility.
"Macedonia should not lose hope after the murder of the policemen, but it should prepare for definite strike against the bandits or to admit that it can not cope with them and that it needs assistance."
Western diplomats described the deployment of 200 police to the vicinity of the mass grave, near the village of Trebos, as a bid by Macedonian hardliners to derail the peace process.
One said it was a "unilateral and completely unnecessary" provocation.
In the abductions that followed a number of ciivilians were seized in the village of Semsevo, in north-west Macedonia, late on Sunday, and another 25 were taken off a bus in the village of Miletino on Monday.
A former commander of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) said it had nothing to do with the abductions.
The upsurge of violence comes as the Macedonian parliament had been due, after many delays, to consider ratifying the August peace deal - and a range of constitutional changes it calls for to improve the position of the Albanian minority.
The NLA was formally disbanded this summer after it handed over 4,000 weapons to Nato peacekeepers.
On Sunday Macedonian security forces near Trebos also arrested a group of armed men, suspected of being local NLA commanders.
A Macedonia analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank, Edward Joseph, said: "The key question now is how the Macedonians will react to the police deaths and kidnappings and whether moderate voices will prevail or those who are hellbent on another war."
Petar Stoyanov 39,2%
Georgi Parvanov 32,3%
Bogomil Bonev 19,1%
Petar Stoyanov 37,7%
Georgi Parvanov 31,6%
Bogomil Bonev 20,4%
Stoyanov Leads in Cities.
Stoyanov succeeded in holding the lead in the cities, the exit polls rates show. According to the preliminary data, Stoyanov received 40 percent in Bourgas and Parvanov - 35 percent. To Gallup International, the incumbent president won 42.01 in Varna and Parvanov - 29.44 percent. The Bulgarian Fair Election Watchdog in Varna, however, gave 43.11 percent to Stoyanov and 23.99 to Parvanov. In Varna Bonev lags behind Parvanov by mere 0.58 percent.
TV Debates Counted Most.
Two-thirds decided whom to vote for during the last week, rather than during the entire campaign, show a public-opinion poll, conducted by TV Channel 1 and Alpha Research. To the agency, it means that they were influenced by the debates the runners took part in during this final period. This fact explains, to a great extent, the trend of the today's vote, the polling agency elaborated. 69 percent, however, have for a long time favoured the candidate they've cast their ballot for.
Over Four Million Bulgarians Refused to Vote.
Record-breaking low turnout registered in Bulgaria, even ministers didn't cast their votes.
In the vote for president yesterday the turnout was record-breaking low. Only 2 291 423 Bulgarians voted till 5 p.m. These are 33.5% of the eligible voters. The unprecedentedly great number of 4.5 million citizens refused to go to the ballot-boxes. The Central Electoral Commission in the town of Yambol registered the highest turnout. Two hours before the end of the election day, 43.67% of the eligible population voted. Even this is less than the statistics in all the other elections held during the last ten years. The smallest number of people voted in Kardzhali. Till 5 p.m. the turnout there was only 28.1%. The sociologists and politicians were startled by the results early in the morning. Until 10 a.m. the turnout was about 10%. At 11 a.m. the level lightly rose to 13% and in Dobrich it was only 5%. Mostly old people from the villages voted. Since 12 o'clock at noon the polling agencies categorically prognosticated a run off. At noon the turnout in Sofia was reaching the record low boundary of 18%. Till the early afternoon the votes were by 20% less that the votes at the same time in the day of the general elections on June 17. For the first time in the democratic history of Bulgaria ministers demonstrated disinterestedness. Five ministers from the cabinet didn't vote. Vice-PM Nikolay Vasilev didn't find where to vote in Qatar. Dimitar Kalchev didn't succeed to come back from Strasbourg on time for the elections. Nobody knew if Plamen Petrov who is also abroad has voted. Financial Minister Milen Velchev probably missed the elections, too, because of his tour abroad. All day long the cabinet couldn't get in touch with Dolores Arsenova.
Bulgaria faces election run-off.
Voters are disillusioned by low living standards.
Exit polls following Sunday's presidential election in Bulgaria indicate there will be a run-off between the two leading candidates in a week's time.
Exit polls suggest that current President Petar Stoyanov is narrowly trailing Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov.
But with voter turnout less than 50%, the two top contenders will have to go into a run-off on 18 November.
The Central Election Commission says that only about 39% of over six million eligible voters went to the polls, the lowest turnout since the fall of Communism a decade ago.
The BBC Central Europe reporter, Nick Thorpe, says the voters of Bulgaria have expressed their disillusion with their political leaders by either staying away from the polls altogether or registering a protest vote.
Mr Stoyanov is having a harder time than expected.
Bulgarian experts had predicted that President Stoyanov would easily win the first round, as he was showing almost 50% approval in pre-election polls.
Mr Parvanov was not even expecting to be the president's closest rival, as polls had predicted former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev would be the nearest challenger.
"Those elections showed that people want change, they want a new president," Mr Parvanov told a news conference, after hearing that he had reached the run-off.
"People are demotivated because every day their lives are getting worse and worse," he added.
The post of president in Bulgaria is largely ceremonial, but is important for the country's international image.
The bespectacled, 49-year-old Mr Stoyanov had remained reasonably popular despite the waning fortunes of his former party, the Union of Democratic Forces.
Simeon II: Swept to power but is struggling to deliver.
They lost power in parliamentary elections in June to the movement named after the former King, Simeon II, who is now Bulgarian prime minister.
Mr Stoyanov, who is running as independent candidate, enjoys a backing both by the prime minister and the previously ruling UDF party.
But commentators say his popularity has been dented by a heated election campaign, with all six candidates being increasingly engaged in a war of mudslinging.
All three leading contenders for the post agreed on major issues, including the country's determination to join both the European Union and Nato in the coming years.
The European Union has praised Bulgaria for recent reforms but criticised for high levels of corruption.
Runoff Vote Likely in Bulgaria.
By VESELIN TOSHKOV, Associated Press Writer
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) - Bulgaria's president appeared headed into a run-off vote with the leader of the former communist party, according to unofficial results Monday from the country's presidential election.
President Petar Stoyanov and Georgi Parvanov, head of the Socialist Party, each obtained about 35 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, exit polls published Monday by the Sova Harris and Mediana institutes said.
Going into the vote, Stoyanov had been backed by Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski, Bulgaria's former king, who was swept into his office in June parliamentary elections.
The presidency is a purely symbolic position this Eastern European nation. But the closeness of Sunday's vote - and low turnout - suggested a weakening of the popularity of the prime minister, the former King Simeon II.
The prime minister won wide public support with his pledges for better living standards and radical moves against corruption. But with winter coming, anger is growing over higher electricity and home-heating bills.
The Central Election Commission said it would have official results on Wednesday. According to preliminary figures, it said, turnout for Sunday's presidential vote was 39 percent, the lowest for the past decade. In the first post-communist presidential elections in 1992 the turnout was 76 percent.
A candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round to prevent a run-off. A second round - which both candidates said Monday appeared likely - would be held Nov. 18.
Stoyanov expressed confidence in his victory in the run-off.
``I expect to rally to a much higher degree the sympathizers of the formations supporting us as well as independent voters and to win the elections in the second round of voting,'' he told a press conference.
Stoyanov, a 49-year-old lawyer who first won the post in 1996 as a candidate of the pro-Western Union of Democratic Forces, was running as an independent this time. Pre-election polls had predicted he would win around 50 percent of the vote.
The Socialists' Parvanov, 44, was a surprise opponent for the second round. Polls had predicted former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev would be the nearest challenger.
``Those elections showed that people want change, they want a new president,'' Parvanov said.
Both candidates agree on the major issues, including the country's preparations for joining NATO and the European Union.
The presidency is a largely figurehead position, while the real power rests with the prime minister and parliament. Still, the presidency carries moral authority and legislative veto power.
Notorious Safebreaker Killed in Sofia.
Ivan Stoyanov (44), aka Kubeto (Dome), was shot in the head in his car in "Hadji Dimitar" Sofia residential district, late on Friday night. At 10.30 p.m. a woman from the first floor in block 177 saw the 'Opel Omega', owned by Stoyanov. The light in the car was on and I saw blood on the left side of his face. She called the police. In 1982 Ivan Stoyanov was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for numerous safecrackings. He specialized in safe-breaking. Eight years later he was amnestied. Stoyanov was close to Poly Pantev, a Bulgarian killed on the island of Aruba several months ago.
Simeon Smartly Fell away from Stoyanov.
Bulgarians read correctly the message of the premier and did not vote for the incumbent president.
PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha demonstrated he felt ashamed of his nominee for President Petar Stoyanov. Prime-minister was not in Bulgaria even, while the election was held. He voted for the head of state in Budapest. "The NMS belongs to the family of the European popular parties" - thus Saxe-Coburg-Gotha motivated the decision to back up Stoyanov on October 2. From then on and to this day, however, the premier did not utter a word in support of Stoyanov. Just the other way around - he kept silent. He kept his distance, when the incumbent president reduce the campaign into a discrediting war. All along the last month Simeon behaved himself as if there were no elections pending in this country. And this was his way to convey a clear-cut message to the people: "He, Stoyanov, is not." And the people grasped his point. Bulgarians read Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's message correctly. And did not cast their ballots for Stoyanov. Why, then, did Simeon support him a month earlier? For several reasons. For all these reasons, however, the move of the premier looks extremely precise. Firstly, by backing Stoyanov, Simeon avoided the awkward situation to nominate a candidate of his own. After the shock upping of prices, launched by the cabinet, the NMS could in no way repeat the landslide of June 17. Secondly, by nominating Stoyanov, the premier drove a wedge into his major political opponent - Kostov's UDF. He took sides and this act of his derailed the UDF leadership. It was the reason the UDF NEC to declare officially their support for Stoyanov with a fatal delay - as late as in Cadenabia. Thirdly, keeping his silent distance from Stoyanov, Simeon actually predetermined his low election returns. Perfectly schemed.
Absurdity - Socialist To Drive Bulgaria into NATO.
Yesterday Bulgaria was faced with the absurdity a socialist to drive us into NATO. By the late afternoon sociologists stressed the big lead of the BSP leader Georgi Parvanov before incumbent president Petar Stoyanov. This country faced the real possibility for the negotiations on Bulgaria's membership of the alliance and the EU to be completed by their major enemy. The indisputable facts are two. Parvanov got the votes of people outside of his narrow party electorate, that is, he received the protest vote. The reason for the first fact is that the socialist leader was the only one to address reasonable messages in the campaign and didn't take to other people's dirty linen. Against the background of the Stoyanov - Bonev war the socialist suddenly turned out to be the positive hero. He also won the protest vote because George Ganchev turned into a caricature of himself. And the people who had voted for him to date, had to look for another candidate. Besides, the Bulgarians got tired of being poor. They can't put up with this any longer. And in such a situation the most logical thing for them is to get oriented to the person who addresses social messages to them.
Bonev and Parvanov to Go into Runoff.
Kancho Kozhuharov, political scientist.
For the second time after June 17 Bulgarians vote the way their own political estimation shows. Two groups formed during the campaign. It was clear that Peter Beron, Reneta Indzhova and George Ganchev have no chances to reach the run off - Beron and Indzhova, because they were out of politics during the last years, Ganchev - because he was in it for too long. In return the quickly falling rating of the incumbent president complicated the struggle between Bogomil Bonev, Georgy Parvanov and Petar Stoyanov to such an extent that till late in the afternoon yesterday nobody knew who of them will go into runoff. At elections in which the incumbent president takes part it's important one to find the weak point of the titular and to explain in a convincing way how different he himself is. From this point of view Bogomil Bonev seemed to be the most sure participant in the runoff. He has two big advantages over Parvanov and Stoyanov. He is really an independent nominee. And he has a secret trap - the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). Georgy Parvanov found another important difference between him and the incumbent president. While Stoyanov is adapting himself to the existing consensus aiming to make people like him, the leader of the BSP himself knows how to create consensus. It's not by accident that with the start of the election day Parvanov was ahead of Stoyanov. As the election day advanced the incumbent president had to overtake his main opponent. It came out that there's no time enough for the decrease tendency of Stoyanov's rating to develop to the end and to lead to a clear runoff between Bonev and Parvanov. Facing the emerging failure it would be a matter of self-respect if Stoyanov gives up in favour of Bonev. But could it be expected that the incumbent president has such sense of self-respect?
Ferocious Serial Killer Detained in Haskovo.
He murdered his victims to get hold of their cars, said IM chief secretary Boiko Borissov. During the arrest the killer put up a fierce resistance. The policemen detected a 'Walter' revolver on him. There is such a case, the Haskovo-RDIM chief Col. Ivan Petrov said. 'We shall work all night long. The murders are many and we have to check out whether all of them have been committed by this man,' he added. Harakchiev is also suspected of crimes committed in other towns.
Airport Shut Down from 11 p.m to 6 a.m.
Sofia Airport is closed for landing between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., to reduce the noise during the night in the residential areas near the airport. The decision was taken jointly by the ministries of Transport and Environment. The terms of the contract between Balkan Airlines and Heli Air will also be changed. Bulgaria's national flag carrier will offer to the airlines to change the leasing terms of the AN-24. So far the aircraft was leased together with the Heli Air's crew. The new proposal is to take the machine only and let the Balkan Airlines to use it's own crew. The measure was necessitated after the accident with Finance Minister Milen Velchev some days ago, when the aircraft's rear hit the runway.
PM's Visit to New York Not Postponed For the Time Being, No Meetings Planned between President and Security Services.
Sofia, November 12 (BTA) - President Peter Stoyanov does not plan to make a statement or to hold a meeting with representatives of the security services in connection with the plane crash in the U.S. Monday, said the President's press secretariat.
For the time being, no changes have been made to the schedule of Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who is to leave Tuesday for New York to participate in the debates within the 56th session of the UN General Assembly November 14 to 17, said the Government's press centre.
On Tuesday the prime minister is to attend a dinner given by French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine. On November 14 he will have meetings with leaders of the American business at the initiative of the Business Council for International Understanding, and with Han Seung-soo, President of the 56th session of the UN General Assembly and South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
Elections? I've got Much More Crucial Things to Do.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: PM Simeon Saxecoburggothski
PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha before journalists after coming back from Hungary.
- Why did you cast your ballot in Budapest, Mr Premier?
- To save time for work.
- Sociologists maintain that the present presidential election is a test for the credit rating of your cabinet.
- In case someone states this, I had other things to do in Budapest. Of greater importance to Bulgaria.
- How will you comment on the low turnout to this minute (3.00 p.m. - author's note) - by about 20 percent?
- Democracy is built up through elections and turnouts.
- But now much less people came to the polling booths than you managed to gather at the time. How did it come?
- Perhaps because the general election is one thing, and the presidential one - quite different.
- How are you to watch the returns this year - on the TV, aren't you?
- The elections? I've got much more crucial things to do.
- Will you attend the press conferences at the National Palace of Culture?
- I'm quite busier than that.
I Voted for Better Life.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Bogomil Bonev
- What have you voted for?
- I voted for better life to all people.
- Can a president make people's life better?
- Yes, he can. It is exactly the conviction that he cannot which discourages people from voting. Those who say that the president doesn't have enough authority, but in spite of that take part in the elections, cannot explain why they do it. I think that he has enough power and this is the reason why I stand for election.
We Are Ready To Help Bulgaria Enter EU.
NATO's enlargement will be in the focus of attention of bilateral relations, says the ambassador of the Czech Republic to Bulgaria Petr Dokladal.
Many things connect me with Bulgaria. I have visited your country 8 times. I have lots of friends here. I also came to join my wife when she studied at the Sofia University. To me, being ambassador in Sofia is a great honor and challenge, the new ambassador of the Czech Republic to this country H.E. Petr Dokladal stressed in an exclusive interview for 'Standart'.
He is convinced that the Czech Center in Sofia - the oldest foreign culture institution in this country will stay, but its activity will depend on the possibilities of the state budget.
We are ready to discuss with Bulgarian officials some issues on the negotiations with the EU, the ambassador pointed out. He recalled that at the end of 2002 Prague would host the NATO summit meeting. A decision will be taken there for the alliance's enlargement. This will be in the focus of attention of our bilateral relations in the period to come.
President Havl has publicly supported Bulgaria's candidature for NATO membership, ambassador Dokladal pointed out. In his opinion there exist no obstacles 'for carrying through the postponed visit of President Vaclav Havl to Sofia'.
The ambassador underlined the growing prospects for bilateral economic cooperation. 'Zeleznicni stavitelstvi' from Brno is among the most active Czech companies in Bulgaria. The company is in charge of projects worth of $20 million in railway engineering. Some of the other companies which work well are CKD -Prague which imports trams and busses, 'Skoda' - Mlada Boleslav, 'Skoda' -Plsen, Energopro.
Ambassador Petr Dokladal was born in Krnov, Moravia on September 2 1959. He had been general consular in Montreal. His wife Jana graduated from Sofia University in the subject of Bulgarian language and literature. Now she is in charge of relations with Bulgaria in the Czech parliament. The two daughters of the family study in a private French language school in Sofia. Everyone in the family studies Bulgarian language with the help of Mrs Dokladal. The ambassador's hobbies are football and hockey.