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Sixth Police Officer Dies in Macedonia Clashes

Policeman injured in clashes with unidentified gunmen in northern Macedonia died of his wounds Sunday, a hospital source said, raising the number of officers killed in the violence to six.

“(A) policeman has died while another one is in critical condition,” a source at a Skopje hospital told the press on condition of anonymity as Macedonia began two days of official mourning for victims of the violence.

The government said earlier that five policemen had been killed and some 30 injured in clashes with unidentified gunmen in Kumanovo that erupted Saturday at dawn.

“There are victims among the terrorists but for the time being we cannot give the exact number,” Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska told reporters late Saturday.

During the operation in Kumanovo, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Skopje, officers met with “violent resistance” from snipers, grenades and automatic weapons, the minister said.

Violence broke out when police moved in to dismantle what they called a “terrorist group” that allegedly entered Macedonia illegally from a neighbouring country.

Local media suggested the assailants came from neighbouring Kosovo, populated mostly by ethnic Albanians.

In 2001, Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian rebels staged an insurgency in the Balkan country.

Sporadic shooting continued in Kumanovo on Sunday morning, media and officials said.

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