By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
About a thousand mainly young Albanians gathered for the protest in Skopje’s Cair municipality after the end of midday prayers in Skopje’s Jaja Pasha Mosque.
Chanting “Allah is great”, “Those who don’t protest are traitors” and “We will not allow rigged trials”, the group started by marching towards the Skopje court building, heading later towards the government building, demanding the release of all ethnic Albanians detained in Tuesday’s police action.
“I am here to express my revolt against the police arrests of innocent Albanians,” one youth told Balkan Insight.
“Albanians are not terrorists but there will be trouble as long as the Macedonian police treat them as such,” another said.
Along their route, the protestors came into close contact with the police when they tried to block a street with burned dumpsters.
The group sporadically threw stones at the police, some of them calling them “Dogs”. No injuries were reported.
Police on Tuesday arrested 20 ethnic Albanians in an operation in several villages around the capital in relation to the gruesome murder of five people near Skopje on April 12. The court later ordered 30 days’ detention for nine of the arrested.
Meanwhile, police have filed terrorism and murder charges against five people that they say organized and carried out the killings, three of whom have been arrested. The other are believed to have fled the country.
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. The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was a short distance away from the rest.
The bodies had been lined up and were executed with firearms.
The killings have raised tensions in the ethnically divided country between Macedonians and the large Albanian minority.