Police have used tear gas and stun grenades to quell the crowdas they demolished a bus station in front of the governmentbuilding, burned Macedonian flag and threw stones at police lines.Cars and shops have also been vandalized.Police say 18 people were arrested so far, five of whom areminors.The demonstrations which have begun on March 1 were started byethnic Macedonians furious at the appointment of ethnic AlbanianTalat Xhaferi’s as defense minister.The next day, Saturday, ethnic Albanians staged their own protestin the capital. Both protests turned violent, with Macedonians andAlbanians clashing with police.Xhaferi, a former rebel guerrilla commander, was named defenseminister on February 20. In the 2001 conflict he fought for therights of Macedonia’s 25 percent ethnic Albanian minority seekinggreater rights for their community.Ethnic tension has been simmering in Macedonia since the end of the8-month-long armed rebellion. The conflict left 80 people dead andended with the intervention of NATO troops.Ethnic Albanians, who are mostly Muslim, make up nearly a third ofMacedonia’s population of 2.1 million people in a country that ismajority Orthodox Christian.
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