Macedonia: 8 police officers dead

Eight police officers were killed and at least 20 others were injured in clashes early Saturday between security forces and an armed group in the town Kumanovo in northern Macedonia

14 gunmen were killed in the weekend clashes.

Prosecutors in Macedonia say they have charged 30 people with terrorism-related offences following deadly clashes in the northern town of Kumanovo.

Some have also been charged with illegally possessing arms and explosives

Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski earlier said police had clashed a “well-trained terrorist group” which had entered Macedonia from an unspecified neighboring country with a plan to “perform attacks on state institutions.”

The events will deepen concern in the West over stability in Macedonia, where the government is under pressure over allegations by opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev of illegal wire-tapping and widespread abuse of office.

Protesters, demanding the resignation of conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, clashed with police last week and the opposition is threatening to rally thousands on 17 May.

Most of those arrested came from neighbouring ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo, where officials called for a “credible and transparent investigation into the killings.”

The weekend fighting is the worst since 2001, when an ethnic Albanian insurgency nearly developed into all-out civil war in the small country of 2.1 million, a quarter of whom are ethnic Albanians. No group has claimed any connection with the incident, which Macedonian authorities have blamed on ethnic Albanian paramilitary groups that fought Serbian and Macedonian forces in the area in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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