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Former Macedonian minister arrested over violent attack on parliament

More than 30 people have been detained in Macedonia over the attack on the parliament in Skopje in April. One of them is the former minister of the interior, Mitko Cavkov.

Macedonia's former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov was arrested early on Tuesday in the capital Skopje, along with other former high ranking government and police officials, as well as members of parliament. The public prosecutor's office said it had issued warrants to arrest 36 people; they were taken for questioning and charged with posing a "terrorist threat to the constitutional order and security," which carries a minimum jail sentence of 10 years. The arrests are tied to an attack on parliament by protesters on April 27 which wounded around 100 people.

Hundreds of demonstrators, some wearing masks, stormed the parliament building in April. They were protesting against the election of a member of the Albanian minority as the new parliament speaker. The violence occurred when the small Balkan country with a population of about 2.1 million inhabitants was struggling to form a new government.

Zoran Zaev, the current prime minister, was also injured in the attack. More than 100 people were injured in total, including 10 politicians. Most of the suspects are considered to have close relations with the long-ruling right-wing VMRO-DPMNE party, led by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

The Macedonian parliament chose Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev as Prime Minister in May. His victory marked the end of almost 11 years of VMRO-DPMNE rule. 

Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of VMRO-DPMNE condemned the arrests, calling on the new government to "immediately stop political persecution" of its opponents. Meanwhile, party activists protested outside the court building.

Watch video 04:05

Macedonia: Powder keg in the Balkans

bg/msh (AP, dpa)

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