Macedonia’s Interior Minister announced that police had arrested 20 radical Islamists on Tuesday in an operation in several villages around the capital in connection with the murders of five men in Skopje on April 12.
“The arrested men are radical Islamists who have been fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan against NATO and they will be charged with terrorism,” Gordana Jankulovski said.
Police said the motives of the men, some of whom were Macedonian nationals, was to spread fear in the country.
About 26 sites were searched and a large quantity of weapons was found, they added.
The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on April 12 near Zelezarsko Ezero on the northern outskirts of the capital, a popular fishing destination. All had gunshot wounds.
Eyewitnesses said they were found by a local fisherman and the victims were believed to be fishermen too. The bodies had been lined up and appeared to have been executed with firearms. Two cars were found in the vicinity with open doors.
The news of the killings raised tensions in the ethnically divided country between Macedonians and Albanians.