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Macedonia Police Swarm Towns

November 13, 2001|Associated Press

SEMSOVO, Macedonia — Hundreds of Macedonian police officers converged on two villages in the Balkan country's ethnically tense northwest Monday to prevent the escape of ethnic Albanian gunmen they said had killed three officers and taken dozens of hostages.

Riding armored personnel carriers and jeeps, police fanned out around Semsovo and Trebos, where the officers were killed and two others were hurt Sunday during a failed attempt to rescue hostages seized by gunmen in retaliation for their comrades' arrests.

The hostages were freed Monday after Western envoys helped mediate a deal. The violence was among the worst in Macedonia since an August accord ended six months of fighting between ethnic Albanian rebels and government forces.

Many people died and thousands fled their homes in northwestern Macedonia before the Western-brokered accord was reached.

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