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Violence mars election day in Macedonia

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Latest update : 2008-06-01

Police arrested a former leader of an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group in connection with Macedonia's election day violence. Violence between the two ethnic Albanian parties marred the campaign for parliamentary elections. (Report: R. Tompsett)

A gunman opened fire Sunday on a Macedonian police unit patrolling an area north of the capital Skopje amid a tense general election, wounding one person, police sources told AFP.
  
"There has been a shooting in Aracinovo, 10 kilometres north of Skopje," a police official who requested anonymity told AFP, without being able to confirm the identity of the victim.
  
"Voting has been interrupted in Aracinovo for security reasons" at all polling stations in the municipality, State Electoral Commission spokesman Zoran Tanevski told AFP.
  
The incident appears to be the latest in a series that have marred the parliamentary elections, which were triggered by political and ethnic strife in the former Yugoslav republic.
  
During campaigning, violence flared between two rival ethnic Albanian parties -- the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) and the opposition Democratic Union for Integration (DUI).
  
The Aracinovo region was previously considered a stronghold of ethnic Albanian gangs and hub for all kinds of illegal trafficking, including cigarettes, oil, prostitutes and drugs.
  
In 2003, the Balkan state had appealed to the European Union to help it beef up its police force in the area.
  
Sunday's early parliamentary elections were called amid uncertainty over Macedonia's integration with the EU and NATO after Greece vetoed an invitation for it to join the military alliance in April.
  
That came a month after the DPA withdrew its support for the government of outgoing Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski for 10 days in protest at its slowness in recognising the independence of neighbouring Kosovo.

Date created : 2008-06-01

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