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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Macedonia holds eight over soldier's death
Royal Engineers carry the coffin on to a transport aircraft in Skopje
The death of Sapper Ian Collins shocked Nato
Authorities in Macedonia have detained eight youths in connection with the killing of a British soldier taking part in Nato's operation in the country.

Sapper Ian Collins died when a concrete block was thrown at the jeep he was travelling in shortly after the British-led operation to destroy weapons held by Albanian rebels arrived in Macedonia.

Sapper Ian Collins
Ian Collins died from massive head injuries
Macedonian police said the teenagers would be charged with committing serious acts against public security, a charge between manslaughter and murder in gravity.

In quoting sources in the Macedonian judiciary the BBC's Paul Anderson in Skopje said the youths had admitted playing a stupid game when they dropped a block of concrete on to the convoy from a bridge on the outskirts of the capital.

Sapper Collins, a 20-year old Royal Engineer, died from head injuries despite attempts to save him, first at an American base in Kosovo, then at a hospital in Skopje.

The death on 27 August came soon after the British-led force arrived in Macedonia for operation Essential Harvest, shocked the Nato brigade.

Mission hailed success

Nato spokesman Mark Laity said: "Obviously we are very satisfied that the Skopje police appear to have reached a successful conclusion to this sad and tragic case."

The Nato mission is now being deemed a success.

Most of the targeted weapons have been collected allowing 4,500 Alliance troops, more than a third of them British, to begin pulling out next week.

A small follow-on force will stay to protect international peace monitors.

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See also:

10 Sep 01 | Europe
Skopje yields to troops pressure
08 Sep 01 | Europe
Macedonia marks tense anniversary
07 Sep 01 | Europe
Nato: No Macedonia mission creep
01 Sep 01 | Europe
Macedonia's landscape of fear
31 Aug 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Macedonia: Wobbling Balkans domino
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