Five police officers have been killed and more than 30 wounded in an operation against gunmen in northern Macedonia, according to the government. Shots were fired during the day in the town of Kumanovo.
Macedonian Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska said on Saturday that five police officers had been killed in fighting in the north of the country.
Her statement came after exchanges of gunfire throughout the day in the town of Kumanovo, where there is a large ethnically Albanian population.
Jankulovska told a news conference that some of the gunmen had been killed, but she did not say how many. The minister also said police had no information about possible civilian casualties in the day-long gun battle.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski had said earlier that police had come up against a "well-trained terrorist group."
Past scene of trouble
The ethnically-mixed town is located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the capital, Skopje, not far from the border with Kosovo. The region was a particular hotspot when ethnic Albanians, who make up about a quarter of Macedonia's population of some two million, took up arms in 2001.
The conflict then lasted six months and ended with a peace deal that guaranteed extra rights to dissatisfied ethnic Albanians.
The country is currently gripped by a political crisis, with both the government and the opposition accusing each other of plotting to destabilize the country for their own ends. The government is being accused of seeking to protect its position while the opposition is alleged to be seeking to seize power.
rc/gsw (AFP, Reuters)