- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2001

SKOPJE, Macedonia — While soldiers' guns fell quiet on the first day of a cease-fire, citizens frustrated with the insurgency by ethnic Albanian rebels vented their frustration yesterday by mobbing the U.S. ambassador.
The episode in the city of Tetovo underlines the tense atmosphere — even amid a cessation of hostility — in which U.S. and European Union envoys are trying to transform the cease-fire into a lasting peace.
More than 30 Macedonians expelled from their homes when the rebels captured nearby villages this week mobbed U.S. Ambassador Michael Einik after he met with Tetovo Mayor Murtezan Ismali and later with representatives of the homeowners.
"We do not believe in any peace agreement," the crowd shouted. "How is it possible to have a cease-fire when these terrorists are shooting on us?"
Bodyguards whisked the ambassador into his vehicle, but the crowd swarmed and pounded on the car, according to Forte Plus radio in Tetovo, a mostly ethnic Albanian city in this mostly Slavic nation.
A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said the ambassador was not seriously threatened and that she did not believe the episode was an indication of any anti-American or anti-Western sentiment.
"I don't think there was anything else to it other than they were frustrated," spokeswoman Yolanda Robinson said.
Mr. Einik returned to the capital, Skopje, and later visited the city of Kumanovo, 15 miles to the northwest.
The citizens of the six occupied villages — many of them communities of weekend mountain homes — have emerged as vociferous critics of the Macedonian government's handling of the 4-month-old insurgency.
Despite the Macedonian government's refusal to negotiate with the rebels, there are still some segments of Macedonian society that feel officials have not taken a hard enough line. They characterize any cease-fire as an unnecessary concession.
A German army convoy was fired on Thursday night, three hours before the cease-fire, about six miles west of Skopje.
Two of the vehicles were hit, one in a wheel, another in a rear window, but no one was hurt, a NATO spokesman said. It was not clear who fired the shots, but the incident was some distance from any front line.
Also shortly before the deadline, rebels rained mortars down on Tetovo, striking buildings and injuring 11 civilians. Government forces responded by unleashing warplanes, helicopters and armored personnel carriers on the rebels lodged in villages surrounding the city.
Despite the display of bravado, which some observers believe was an attempt to establish territorial lines before the cease-fire took effect, the guns fell silent several hours after the deadline.
The cease-fire gave U.S. envoy James Pardew and his EU counterpart, Francois Leotard, a period of calm to work out details of a political framework addressing ethnic Albanian demands for more recognition and inclusion in Macedonian society.
The envoys spent yesterday shuttling among political parties.

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