Ethnic Albanians stone Macedonian govt. headquarters

SKOPJE -- Ethnic Albanians rallied in several Macedonian towns on Friday to protests against a police operation that saw arrest of suspects in a quintuple murder case.


The protesters threw rocks at the Macedonian government headquarters in Skopje and broke windows on the building.

They tried to enter the building but were stopped by the police. The protest ended soon after.

Several thousands of people gathered in Skopje and the rally started after the traditional Friday prayer in mosques.

The ethnic Albanians, who were protesting against the arrest of radical Islamists suspected of the murder of five Macedonians near Skopje in April, first went to the court and then to the government headquarters.

According to local media, mostly young people took part in the protest in the capital.

Several incidents were recorded – the protesters threw rocks at the government building and broke a couple of windows and demolished a bus stop.

Skopje-based daily Kurir has reported that the protesters tried to attack a news crew during the rally.

The gathered people shouted “We are not terrorists, we are Muslims”, “KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army)”, “Great Albania” and carried banners saying “Muslims are not terrorist”, “Priština, Tirana – ethnic Albania”.

The protesters also carried banners against the Macedonian government and Prime Minster Nikola Gruevski who they called a “terrorist” and a “Chetnik”. They shouted “murderers” at the police.

The demonstrators also carried banners saying “Serbs and Macedonians” were responsible for the quintuple murder.

The protests were held in the towns of Gostivar and Tetovo as well.

Unsigned calls to Albanians to come to a protest against the arrest of radical Islamists suspected of the murder of five Macedonians near Skopje recently appeared on social network sites.

Macedonians have called for a counter-protest that should be held in front of the Macedonian government headquarters in Skopje at 13:00 CET on Saturday.

Organizers of the protest are still unknown but they stated on the social network sites that the counter-rally was aimed at preventing the radical Islam from spreading in Macedonia.

The organizers have called on the participants not to cause incidents.

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski earlier on Friday urged the citizens who were planning on taking part in the Friday protest against the operation Monster not to allow anyone to manipulate them and called on them to respect the country’s laws.

He added that everybody had the right to protest in a democratic country but that the protesters needed to act responsibly.

“Macedonia is a multiethnic and a multiconfessional state. We live together and we will continue to live together,” Gruevski pointed out.

Ruling VMRO-DPMNE coalition partner Ali Ahmeti’s Democratic Union for Integration has also called on all protesters to express their opinion in a dignified, peaceful and democratic manner.

The U.S. Embassy in Macedonia called for a peaceful protest as well.