67 images Created 30 Aug 2009
The first actions by ethnic Albanians in Macedonia occurred in late 2000 and early 2001, mainly along Macedonia's border with then-United Nations-administered Kosovo. The insurgents acted in a pattern similar to the one seen in Kosovo in late 1997 and through 1998, according to which they gradually took over one village after the other. Any such efforts were initially peaceful, non-Albanian population were forced to leave. But, in January-February 2001 combat actions against legitimate authorities begun.
The government at first did nothing against the situation because it received assurances, that what was going on was not directed against Macedonia. Satisfied with the answer and their payments the authorities waited for almost two months - and then the situation was almost immediately out of control, in fact so much that the government was taken by surprise.
In January 2001 a group calling itself the National Liberation Army (NLA) appeared, claiming responsibility for attacks on police forces. The leaders of this NLA - including Ali Ahmeti and his uncle, Fazli Veliu, were all from Western Macedonia. They stated to have "between several hundreds and thousands" of fighters under arms, including Islamic fundamentalists, foreign