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Ethnic clashes in Macedonia leave dozens injured (PHOTOS)

Published time: March 03, 2013 01:03
Edited time: March 03, 2013 14:33
Burned shell of a public bus after a demonstration in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

Burned shell of a public bus after a demonstration in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

A least 22 people, including 13 policemen have been injured in two days of clashes between ethnic groups and police in the Republic of Macedonia's capital, Skopje.

Police have used tear gas and stun grenades to quell the crowd as they demolished a bus station in front of the government building, burned Macedonian flag and threw stones at police lines. Cars and shops have also been vandalized.

Police say 18 people were arrested so far, five of whom are minors.

The demonstrations which have begun on March 1 were started by ethnic Macedonians furious at the appointment of ethnic Albanian Talat Xhaferi's as defense minister.

The next day, Saturday, ethnic Albanians staged their own protest in the capital. Both protests turned violent, with Macedonians and Albanians clashing with police.

Macedonian riot police clash with ethnic Albanians during a demonstration in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

Xhaferi, a former rebel guerrilla commander, was named defense minister on February 20. In the 2001 conflict he fought for the rights of Macedonia's 25 percent ethnic Albanian minority seeking greater rights for their community.

Ethnic tension has been simmering in Macedonia since the end of the 8-month-long armed rebellion. The conflict left 80 people dead and ended with the intervention of NATO troops.

Ethnic Albanians, who are mostly Muslim, make up nearly a third of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million people in a country that is majority Orthodox Christian.

Macedonian riot police walk past a damaged car during clashes with ethnic Albanians in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

Ethnic Albanians clash with Macedonian riot police during a demonstration in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

Macedonian riot police clash with ethnic Albanians during a demonstration in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

An Ethnic Albanian carry a road sign during clashes with Macedonian riot police in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)

Macedonian riot police clash with ethnic Albanians during a demonstration in Skopje on March 2, 2013 (AFP Photo / Robert Atanasovski)


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