Albanian students arrested

October 9, 1998

Inter-ethnic fighting in Kosovo and disturbances in Albania have had a knock-on effect in Macedonia, where ethnic Albanians make up more than 20 per cent of the population.

There have been numerous police raids and arrests. Among the detainees are three students from the Albanian-taught unofficial University of Tetovo. They are being held by the Macedonian police on suspicion of carrying out terrorist bombings. The home of Fatih Hyseni, former chairman of the student union, was raided by police, who gave him what was described as an 'informative talk'.

The three arrested students are Kemal Shakiri from Skopje, Granit Osmani from Kumanovo and Fatmir Limani of Kicevo.

Police claim that during the search of the suspect students' homes, they discovered stores of weapons and explosives, brought illegally from Albania. Ethnic Albanian sources deny that any weapons were found.

The eight explosions in which students are allegedly implicated began in December 1997. They include a bomb on the Skopje-Belgrade railway line, which exploded when the Thessaloniki-Budapest express was passing.

The Kosovo Liberation Army, whose aim is to detach Kosovo from Serbia, claimed responsibility for the first three bombings.

Either the authorities discount the claims or they are trying to establish a link between the KLA and the University of Tetovo, which, since it was established at the initiative of the ethnic-Albanian community without Macedonian government and legislative approval, is, in Macedonian eyes, an illegal institution.

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