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The BBC's Paul Anderson
"Most civilans fled the village when the rebels moved in"
 real 56k

Friday, 22 June, 2001, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Analysis: Attack changes political picture
Attack on the village of Aracinovo
The army used some of its heaviest weapons
By defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus

The Macedonian military's assault against the village of Aracinovo brings to an end the slowly deteriorating cease-fire between the government security forces and the ethnic Albanian rebels.

In relative terms the Macedonian army has used some of its heaviest fire-power with helicopter gunships being employed to attack targets in the village.

The offensive has both a military and a political dimension.

The Macedonian Government was under increasing public pressure to act against the ethnic Albanian insurgents following a series of minor clashes over recent weeks.

Macedonian police checkpoint, near Aracinovo
Security has been tight around the village
There was additional pressure from hard-line elements within the Government too.

And in purely military terms guerrilla positions in and around Aracinovo probably pose the most immediate threat to the government's control of its territory.

The village threatens important lines of communication and is just outside mortar range of the airport, close to the capital Skopje.

What's not clear is the Macedonian army's intentions.

Co-ordinated attack

While its attack is said by observers to have been reasonably well co-ordinated it has not swept the guerrillas from their positions.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana
Western diplomats have tried to help
Little in a fundamental sense has changed, though the peace process has clearly received a significant blow.

The offensive illustrates the limited influence of Nato and the EU on the Macedonian government's actions.

The attack may not deal a deadly blow to the peace process - which was not making much progress even before this attack.

Western diplomats are still struggling to find the levers that can reconcile the two sides.

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See also:

13 Jun 01 | Europe
Panic sparks refugee exodus
12 Jun 01 | Europe
Macedonia army chief resigns
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