BBC Monitoring - June 24, 2004

Report by Macedonian newspaper Makedonija denes on 23 June

Makedonija denes has learned that the Kumanovo police have reinforced all the entry and exit police checkpoints in the town following the incident that happened near the Kumanovo marketplace during the weekend (19-20 June). Muarem Krasniqi, alias (National Liberation Army - UCK in Albanian) Commander Malisheva and another Kosovo Albanian assaulted and robbed two policemen.

The Kumanovo police have undertaken these measures after rumours spread that Commander Malisheva would activate the explosive (found in his possession) if the Macedonian police arrested him.

Judging by the reactions, Kumanovo citizens are greatly disturbed. They believe a terrorist attack is possible, because they are convinced that the Kosovars will activate the TNT explosive that was supposed to be planted in an unknown location before the incident.

"Yesterday, rumours spread that a powerful explosive device would be activated in town," a Kumanovo citizen says. "We are living in fear that something may happen to us," he adds. SVR (Internal Affairs Sector) Kumanovo head Mile Andonovski could not be reached by the media yesterday.

However, MVR (Macedonian Interior Ministry) officials have confirmed that the police checkpoints have been enhanced and that an intensive pursuit for the two assailants is underway. They also add that there is no danger of a new incident.

According to the claims of several Kumanovo residents, Commander Malisheva is a frequent guest in this area. He was seen last month during a commemorative rally in Vaksince on the occasion of the third anniversary of the death of Fadilj Nimani, also known as Commander Tiger. Macedonian Assembly Deputies Hysni Shaqiri, Fazli Veliu and Fatmir Hasani accompanied him at that time.

Let us recall that at about 0400 hours (0200 gmt) on 19 June 2004, Commander Malisheva threatened to kill two Kumanovo policemen, and he took away their official weapons and car. The incident occurred on 3rd Makedonska Udarna Brigada Street outside the 1 May factory in Kumanovo.

The policemen had stopped Maliseva and an unidentified Kosovo Albanian to check their identification documents, because the unknown person carried a suspicious-looking bag. After they showed their UNMIK (UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) passports, the two assilants pointed their guns at the policemen, took their official guns and the police "Lada Niva" car, and left in an unknown direction. After 10 minutes, the police found the car and the bag that the unidentified man carried. The bag contained 1 kilogram of TNT explosive, ready to be activated. The policemen wish to remain anonymous, but they do say that they are lucky to be alive. One officer is of Albanian nationality, while the other is a Macedonian national.

The MVR is still searching for the two assailants who are suspected of preparing a terrorist attack in Kumanovo.

Source: Makedonija Denes, Skopje, in Macedonian 0000 gmt 23 Jun 04

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