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The BBC's Jim Fish
"K-For deny that the border was crossed"
 real 56k

The BBC's Nicholas Wood in Skopje
"The group has been trapped since fighting first erupted"
 real 28k

Friday, 9 March, 2001, 16:22 GMT
Macedonian convoy escapes ambush
US troops on patrol near Kosovo Macedonia border
Nato may consider deploying troops on the border
A Macedonian Government convoy trapped for hours under rebel fire has escaped its attackers and is returning to the capital, Skopje.

Thirty people, including a senior general and Deputy Interior Minister Refet Elmazi, were stranded after coming under attack on Thursday evening from suspected Albanian rebels near the Macedonian villages of Brest and Malino.

Click here to see a map of the area

At least one policeman and one guerrilla died in an hour-long exchange of fire, involving artillery and heavy mortars, which followed the ambush.

A police spokesman said the convoy of several dozen cars and trucks, carrying senior officials, had now left the mountain village where it was ambushed.

The group was in the area for talks with local Albanian leaders and to distribute food aid to Albanian families in the region.

Serb forces on border with Macedonia
Yugoslavia says it will move into the "dangerous" border zone
The Macedonian authorities have yet again closed all the border crossings with Kosovo to prevent incursions.

In Serbia, officials said that a policeman had died after a mortar attack by ethnic Albanian guerrillas on the village of Lucane in southern Serbia.

The incidents come as Nato considers deploying troops along the volatile Macedonian border with Kosovo.

The military alliance has already decided to allow Yugoslav troops back into part of the buffer zone alongside Macedonia which divides Kosovo from the rest of Serbia.


We want to prevent what can be limited, localised skirmishes becoming bigger or spilling over into the wider region

Nato chief
Lord Robertson
Nato Secretary-General Lord Robertson said: "We want to prevent what can be limited, localised skirmishes becoming bigger or spilling over into the wider region."

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica accepted the offer to move in to what he called a "very dangerous" area, but said it highlighted the failure of Nato to secure the zone.

"This is maybe one more proof of how inefficient in all these years... K-For has been," he said.

The rebels have warned that opening the zone to Yugoslav forces will lead to a worsening of the violence.

The actions of rebels, who want to unite parts of Serbia and Macedonia where ethnic Albanians live, have attracted international condemnation.

Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani has described their activities as "totally unacceptable".


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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Europe
Q&A: Kosovo flare-up
06 Mar 01 | Europe
Macedonia blasts rebel base
08 Mar 01 | Europe
Analysis: Nato's Kosovo dilemma
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