Reacting to a weekend attack in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that took the lives of several soldiers, members of the Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan today condemned the act and demanded a halt to violence.
In a statement to the press issued by Council President Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, the 15-member body denounced Saturday's "cowardly and brutal" ambush at Vejce, near Tetovo, which left eight dead and six injured. "There is no place for all those who use violence, espouse extremism, resort to terrorism, create tension, defy international legality and try to oppose democratization and reconciliation," the statement said.
Council members also commended the Skopje Government for its restraint in the face of recent provocations, as well as its efforts to strengthen multiethnic democracy, foster harmony and encourage the country's leaders and citizens to pursue the path of peace.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Secretary-General said in a statement that Mr. Annan deplored this "unprovoked" and "wanton" act and called for a complete stop to the use of violence.
"The Secretary-General reiterates the importance of continuing the dialogue among the political leaders of the country aimed at strengthening multi-ethnic relations and democratic norms and restoring stability," the statement said.
Saturday's attack was also condemned by the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Hans Haekkerup. "These attacks by armed extremists are unacceptable, outrageous and must be brought to an end," he said in a statement released in Pristina on Sunday.
Mr. Haekkerup stressed that in Kosovo, the responsible players -- including political, community and religious leaders -- fully supported the Government and citizens of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. "People there want to live in peace for a better future," he said.
The UNMIK chief also extended his deepest sympathies to the families of "these victims of terrorist violence."
Meanwhile, UNMIK police are continuing their effort to stamp out the organized trafficking of women for prostitution, according to a spokesman for the mission. During a recent raid on the Diamond Bar, 14 young women who had been taken from neighbouring countries were recovered. "All had been held for the purpose of prostitution," UNMIK Police Spokesman Dean Olson told the press today.
A Kosovar Albanian male has been arrested and faces charges of controlling the women for purposes of prostitution, while UNMIK is helping four of the women return to their home countries.