Rebels Hold in Macedonia, Retreat in Serbia
Ethnic Albanian guerrillas fired on Macedonian troops on Wednesday in defiance of a government ultimatum, while in neighboring Serbia over 100 Albanian rebels were reported to have thrown down their guns.
A Macedonian Army spokesman said insurgents fired machineguns at government positions in the morning, drawing artillery rounds in response.
A Reuters photographer near the scene said shelling resumed a few hours later and smoke was rising from impacts in the village.
The fighting at Slupcane, a rebel occupied village pounded repeatedly by government over the past two weeks, indicated the "National Liberation Army" had so far paid no heed to a deadline to leave the area by Thursday at noon.
In Serbia, the Yugoslav Army said 14 guerrillas of the UCPMB were killed when Serb forces recaptured the village of Oraovica, roughly 10 miles north of the Macedonian battlefield. The rebels said they lost five men.
Serbian forces were braced for further clashes in the Presevo Valley in the next few days. Albanian rebels say they will fight to prevent Serbs regaining control of the Kosovo buffer zone they occupy on May 24, as agreed by NATO this week.
Yugoslav army commander General Ninoslav Krstic said 80 rebels who had changed out of their uniforms had been captured after a swift tank and infantry attack retook Oraovica.
In Kosovo, NATO peacekeepers said 45 Presevo Valley guerrillas had crossed the boundary line to give themselves up.
The Macedonian ultimatum raised the prospect of serious casualties should the army order an assault on guerrilla-held villages, where many ethnic Albanian civilians are still in their homes -- SKOPJE (Reuters)