Earlier in the month, Macedonian authorities found five suspiciously lined & bound corpses of men with gunshot wounds near Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia. Macedonian police has so far failed to make any arrests or solid findings from ongoing investigations into the identity of the killer or group that carried out the execution. The deaths of these men have brought back bitter memories of the ethnic conflict between the ethnic Albanians and the ethnic Macedonian Slavs.
The corpses were found near the lake at the Smiljkovci village north of Skopje. Four of the bodies were identified to be in their early 20′s or late teens while the last was a man in his 40′s.
The four young men were identified as Cvetanco Acevski, Aleksander Nakjevski, Filip Slavkovski & Kire Trickovski while the man in his 40′s, who may have been murdered because he witnessed the murders of the four (based on the distance of his body from the rest), was identified as Borce Stevkovski.
The murders have drawn widespread condemnation from around the world including the nearby European Union.
Riots, protests and street clashes between nationalist youths and the Macedonian police erupted in Skopje after speculation surrounded the style of the killings and pointed it out a the execution style of ethnic Albanian gangs.
Rioters were successfully blocked from crossing a bridge over the Vardar River into an Albanian neighborhood by Macedonian riot police.
Though the riots have subsided for the most part, tension is still soaring high at its highest since the 2001 insurgency in Macedonia.
The 11 month long armed conflict in 2001 between the Albanian National Liberation Army and Macedonian forces ended with multiple casualties on both sides and in the displacement of over 100,000 civilians.
The ethnic Albanian militants initiated the conflict saying that the Albanians in Macedonia, who make up a quarter of the republic’s population of 2.1 million people, were treated as second class citizens.
During the conflict, controversial and questionable actions on part of both sides were carried out including a crackdown on the ethnic Albanian village of Ljuboten by the Macedonian authorities which resulted in torture, deaths and over 100 arrests.
The end of the conflict saw to a ceasefire and the disarmament of the Albanian insurgents along with promises by the Macedonian government to better support its Albanian population.
Now, the memories of that terrible time have returned in the form of furious nationalists and an enigmatic organization that’s currently calling itself the “Army for the Liberation of Occupied Albanian Lands”.
The mysterious pro-ethnic Albanian group is threatening to launch attacks all over Macedonia within the next two weeks because of what they see as “injustices” against the Albanians living in Macedonia.
Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov and even Albania’s President Bamir Topi have called for restraint and peaceful attitudes lest the recent events unfold into, perhaps, a civil war.
Ethnic Albanian political leaders, including former insurgent leader Ali Ahmeti of the Democratic Union for Integration, are also warning their supporters and the media to refrain from fueling the ethnic tensions.
(Cover Photo: AP/Boris Grdanoski)